Statute of Limitations laws limit the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. Statute of limitations laws help to guarantee that the legal process can move forward in a timely manner, that evidence will still be fresh and that witnesses are still available to testify. In the event of a wrongful death, a lawsuit would be brought forward by the victims executor; typically a parent, spouse or child. In California, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death.
Exceptions: The Discovery Rule in a Wrongful Death Claim
In certain circumstances, there are exceptions to the law, known as the discovery rule. The discovery rule states that the statute of limitations begins at the time an injury was discovered, or became known. For instance, if a wrongful death occurred due to an injury or illness that was brought on by a defective product a year earlier, the statute of limitations would have begun at the time the injury or illness was first diagnosed. This could potentially mean that the time frame an executor has to file a wrongful death suit could run out before death even occurs.
There are other statute of limitations exceptions that may apply statewide as well. For example, in California, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death that occurred due to asbestos exposure is reduced down to one year after the death occurred, or one year from the date the victim knew of asbestos exposure, whichever is later.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
In addition to the discovery rule, it is possible for the statute of limitations to be suspended, or tolled for a certain period of time. Certain scenarios may cause a wrongful death claim to be tolled, for instance in dealing with a minor, imprisonment or mental health issues.
You May Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer
It is very important to understand the statute of limitations laws where you live. When it comes to receiving the compensation you deserve, time is of the essence. Since wrongful death laws can be very complex, you must contact a trusted attorney to help you understand your rights. If you think that you may have a wrongful death claim, or are interested in learning more, contact wrongful death attorney Frank D Penney today.