Wrongful Death Cases
When a loved one dies due to someone’s negligence, it can be a stressful time. You may not be ready to talk to a lawyer about your situation, but every state has time limits on how long you have to bring a civil suit against the negligent party. Although no amount of money can bring your loved one back, it is important to consider speaking to a lawyer about your case before these time limits run out.
The time limit on wrongful death cases is called a statute of limitations. The time limit for a particular case depends on what type of case it is and the laws of the state. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for most cases is one to three years, but there are also many exceptions to this rule.
When Is the Negligence Discovered?
The discovery rule starts the time limit clock when the party discovers the cause of the decedent’s death. If the decedent knew the reason he or she was dying, the discovery rule may start at that point, even before the death. The statute of limitations can be quite complicated.
In some cases, such as product liability, the statute of limitations begins at the time of death, regardless of whether you knew that a defective product caused the death or not. The discovery rule doesn’t apply. Some states have laws that prevent a wrongful death case from being brought to the court when the case is a certain age, such as 10 years. This is called the statute of repose. There are many exceptions under the law. You may need an experienced lawyer to help you take the best steps for your case.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Every state has rules as to who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, it’s the surviving spouse or children who have the right to bring the lawsuit before the court. Parents are also in line. In some states, only dependent children or parents can bring a wrongful death case if there is no surviving spouse. Again, there are exceptions to the rule. In some places, the statute of limitations for minor children bringing an action to the court doesn’t start until the child turns 18.
Wrongful death cases have many laws that govern them. If you believe that you have a wrongful death case, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer in Trenton, NJ about your situation to begin the process. Time is critical, but a lawyer can help you take action to protect your rights.
Thanks to Davis & Brusca for their insight into personal injury claims and time limits on wrongful death cases.