The loss of a loved one is never easy, especially if it was due to someone else’s negligence. From mourning to the stress that comes from funeral, medical and damage expenses, it can be detrimental to a family’s well-being. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer is crucial when faced with such a tragedy, and while it may be hard to focus on anything during the initial incident, it’s important that you act quickly when it comes to hiring a lawyer.
The reason that you should act quickly is because of something called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the legal time limit on a wrongful death claim. There are different statutes for different types of claims, but many states place similar statutes of limitations on certain cases.
When Does the Clock Start?
You have to know exactly when the clock starts after a wrongful death. In an injury case, the statute of limitations starts as soon as the injury occurs. However, wrongful death lawyers will tell you that in a wrongful death case, the time limit doesn’t start until the death is proven to be caused due to another’s negligence or recklessness.
For instance, the statute of limitations can start immediately if a wrongful death is obvious. However, if the case isn’t obvious, further investigation must be done until negligence is proven.
How Much Time Do I Have?
The spouse, child or parent of the victim must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the victim’s passing. Of course, there are some exceptions to this time limit:
The Discovery Rule: As mentioned previously, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until a lawyer determines the death was intentional. However, if a victim was killed due to someone else’s negligence but that information wasn’t uncovered until the statute had lapsed, the family may still be eligible to file suit.
Minors: Children under the age of 18 may not file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the victim’s child can file a lawsuit two years after their 18th birthday. They can do this even if the original statute of limitations has expired.
Extensions: Courts take statutes of limitations seriously, so it is uncommon for a judge to disregard them. However, in some instances a lawyer can successfully appeal to have them set aside. This is known as a motion to toll the statute of limitations. The most common case of this occurring is when another party is responsible for ongoing delays in the case.
If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, contact a wrongful death lawyer at Robert J. DeBry and Associates Immediately to get the compensation that you deserve. Our team of attorneys will work hard to ensure that you can focus on mourning and healing while we focus on building your case.