Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims

Losing a loved one is challenging. The time it takes to grieve and sort through an estate varies, depending on the individual survivor. Therefore, in a matter of wrongful death, it is understandable families might want to know how long they have to file. However, beyond grief, it is also understandable to take your time and build your case and seek evidence for your claim. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death claim varies significantly from state to state. However, there are a few standard rules that should shed some light on the general timeline available to mourning survivors.

General Rule

The general rule or statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of misconduct. To clarify, that is not two years from the victim’s passing. Therefore, if a person is in an accident, and then they die two months later from the injuries, the family would have two years from the date of the initial accident to file their claim. Also, it is essential to note that the limitation is restricted to the date the claim is made and not the timeline for settlement negotiations or a trial, meaning that a lawsuit can go forward after the statute is up as long as the claim was filed by the two-year deadline.

Special Rules

While the general rule is two years for filing a claim, that term length can be shortened or extended, depending on the underlying circumstances. For example, the two-year deadline does not typically begin for minors until they are 18 years old. Therefore, if the parent of a 15-year-old child is the victim of an accident, then the child will typically have at least five years to file a claim. They will have three years until they turn 18, and then two more years for the statute of limitations. There are similar adjustments for people with mental disabilities or cases involving intentional acts or fraud.

Discovery of Harm

Also, the two-year countdown might not begin until harm is discovered. Therefore, if a patient does not learn of fatal diagnoses for years because of a doctor’s failure to diagnose it, then the statute of limitations does not begin until the date of discovery.

Essentially, the rules surrounding the timelines for wrongful death claims can be complicated to understand. Every state has their own interpretations and exceptions to general rules. Therefore, if you are considering filing a wrongful death claim, then contact a lawyer,  like a Wrongful Death Lawyer, in  Lakewood FL from David & Philpot, P.L.,with experience who can walk you through the process.

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