Every civil action, including a wrongful death lawsuit, has an inherent ultimate time limit within which the suit must be filed. This limitation period is provided for in the statutes of limitation. Once the time runs out, dependents can lose their right to claim.
Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, so your ultimate times will depend on your state’s wrongful death laws. Typically, the limit is between a year to three years, though some have more. The safest way to know how much time you have is by consulting an experienced attorney as soon as possible to get insight into requirements in your jurisdiction.
Here are general rules on timelines that wrongful death lawyers can help you beat.
The Discovery Rule
The clock on time limitation for a wrongful death action begins ticking when the party making a claim discovers or should have discovered, when exercising due diligence, the cause of death. In other states, the limitation period commences on the person’s death date unless doing so would be calling an action at a time when the cause of death would not be reasonably discovered.
Exception And Special Considerations To Time Limits In Wrongful Death Claims
Sometimes a wrongful death claim may be viewed as a derivative action, that is, arising from a personal injury claim. Such an action can be time-barred by the statute of limitations in cases where the decedent did not have a right to claim at the time of death because they failed to bring a claim within the injury’s limitation period.
Other times, a wrongful death based on product liability can be subjected to special limitation periods that begin on the date of death regardless of the defendant’s knowledge of the cause of death. The discovery rule would not apply to such cases.
Statutes of repose bar product liability claims when the product has attained a certain age. The statutes of repose may also apply to a wrongful death action when the cause of death was a defective product that has not been on the market for an extended period.
Speaking to wrongful death lawyers will help them determine if these limitations apply to your case and how to go around them.
How To Get Past The Statute Of Limitations
If you’re past the statute of limitations timeline, all hope is not lost. A dedicated team of wrongful death lawyers can use three options to help you get the limit extended. They can have it waived by the court, toll the statute of limitations, or waived by the at-fault party.
For the court to waive the statute of limitation, your situation must satisfy specific criteria to legitimize the waiver. Qualified and experienced wrongful death lawyers will know how to go about this application if they advise you to take this route.
Tolling, suspending, or delaying a statute of limitation is the typical approach wrongful death attorneys take. One common approach is when the person bringing up the claim was still a minor when their statute of limitation timeline ran out.
Speak To Wrongful Death Lawyers – Seek Justice For Your Loss
Dealing with loss and having to relive it when making a wrongful death claim can be daunting; it’s the last thing anyone wants to do. However, if you believe or suspect you may have a valid wrongful death claim, then time is essential. Make the most crucial step; speaking to a wrongful death lawyer. They should handle most of the work as you process your loss.