Every state has established a limitation period for the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers refer to such a period as the statute of limitations. A Personal Injury Lawyer in Bedford could not agree to handle a wrongful death case, if the potential client had failed to complete the filing process prior to the stated deadline.
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case?
It varies from state to state. In the majority of states, it is 2 to 3 years. Yet some states have a longer period, before the deadline for filing. Regardless of the length of that limitation period, someone that hoped to initiate a lawsuit, following the untimely and unanticipated death of a loved one, would not have a valid case
What event marks the start of the limitation period, if a potential plaintiff expects to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit?
Either of two different events could mark the start of such a period
1) The party bringing the lawsuit should have made a discovery, regarding the cause of death for a loved one.
2) An exercise of reasonable diligence should have led to the discovery of what caused a loved one’s death.
A given state’s view of wrongful death lawsuits influences the way that it defines the starting point for the statute of limitations.
–Some states believe that any family that has lost a loved one due to an unexpected and tragic event has a fundamental right to pursue a wrongful death action.
–Some states have a view that reflects their adherence to the Discovery Rule.
What is the Discovery Rule?
The starting point for the statute of limitations gets determined by the facts that show whether or not the decedent knew or should have known the cause for his or her illness or injury: According to that rule, the starting point is the same as the moment at which the injured or ill person died.
Still, there is an exception to the stipulations in the Discovery Rule. A court would not apply that Rule if it would destroy the cause of action before it could be discovered in a reasonable fashion.
Other rules on the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit
That sort of case might give rise to a derivative action. That is when a court says that there is no claim, because the decedent had not made a personal injury claim within the limitation period.
Sometimes the statute of repose applies to such a lawsuit. According to the statute of repose, the court should not allow a product liability claim if the defective product has reached a certain age. A statute of repose could apply to a wrongful death claim, if the defective product had been taken out of the marketplace earlier.