Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

A preventable accident because of someone else’s negligence is among the most tragic of ways to lose a family member. The law allows certain family members to file a lawsuit to recover compensation after losing a close loved one. However, the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is not unlimited.

A wrongful death accident lawyer will ensure you do not violate any important procedural rules, including failing to file a lawsuit before the deadline passes. Schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death attorney in DuBois as soon as possible.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim that a family member files against a negligent person or entity. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed after an accident or incident claims the life of the victim, and someone else was to blame. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state.

The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to financially compensate the victim’s family for their losses related to losing their family member. This can provide beneficial financial support and justice.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a deadline set by state law limiting the time victims have to file a lawsuit for damages. It is arguably the strictest procedural rule in litigation proceedings. Typically, missing a statute of limitations bars a wrongful death claimant from seeking compensation altogether.

The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in most states is two years, though it might be one or three years in certain states. The time limit might be longer in cases involving hit-and-runs or criminal conduct. Your wrongful death attorney will identify the deadline for your case.

What Is The Discovery Rule?

wrongful death accidentWhen the statute of limitations period begins depends on when the plaintiff discovered the cause of their loved one’s death or should have discovered their cause of death.

The discovery rule is applied differently depending on the state. For example, some jurisdictions require that the deceased had a case at the time of their death. That means the deceased either knew the cause of their death or should have discovered the cause of their death. Other states measure the statute of limitations from the moment of the deceased’s death.

Wrongful death is a complex area of the law. Families should seek the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney to ensure that their rights are protected after the death of a loved one.

What Is The Statute of Repose?

The statute of repose operates similarly to the statute of limitations. The state’s statute of repose cuts off a party’s right to recovery after a set amount of time expires. A statute of repose differs from a statute of limitations because the statute of repose always starts at the time an event occurs. In wrongful death cases, the statute of repose begins at the moment of the deceased’s death.

The statute of repose can be much stricter than the statute of limitations. States with a statute of repose bar legal action against a party after the statute passes, regardless of when the injury or misconduct was discovered.

Can I Pause the Statute of Limitations?

In some cases, a statute of limitations can be paused or “tolled.” Among the most common ways a plaintiff tolls the statute of limitations is when the plaintiff is a minor. Children who lose a parent in a wrongful death accident are typically allowed to toll the statute of limitations on filing their claim until after they reach the age of majority. The age of majority in most states is 18.

A far less common way to toll the statute of limitations is through waiver. Some plaintiffs may petition the court to waive the statute of limitations in their claim. Another waiver strategy is asking the opposing side to agree to waive the statute of limitations.

The availability of both waiver and delay until the plaintiff is of age depends on state law.

How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me?

Hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney is the best way for you to recover the compensation that you deserve after losing a loved one in an accident. A lawyer can use their skills to help you through the entire process from start to finish. Examples of how wrongful death lawyers assist their clients include the following:


Your family’s case will likely start with settlement negotiations. Like in other types of civil cases, potential defendants want to avoid taking accountability along with their insurance companies. Plaintiffs who try to settle their case with the insurance company without counsel are vulnerable to falling for underhanded tactics that the insurance company uses, like trying to settle quickly before the family discovers the extent of their losses. Having an attorney protects you and your legal rights during negotiations.

Gathering Evidence

Wrongful Death Lawyer

Proving a wrongful death case can be an uphill battle. The right legal team can take pressure and stress off your family and allow you to grieve in peace.

The evidence must connect the defendant’s actions to your loved one’s death. While the cause of your family member’s death might seem obvious, defendants will fight against taking any accountability. A legal team can investigate the cause of the death and connect relevant evidence to prove your case.

Where the evidence is found in a wrongful death claim depends on the facts surrounding the death. Some of the types of evidence that an attorney might review and consider when building your case can include the following:

  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • The deceased’s income at the time of their death
  • The deceased’s financial and emotional contribution to their household
  • Marital status of the deceased
  • Number of children or dependents

Standing Up for Your Family in Court

If your case is not settled, or if you are not offered a satisfactory settlement, your case will continue to go to court. Walking into a courtroom can be intimidating, especially when you must explain the value your loved one brought to your life. Having an attorney present your case for you takes the burden off you and your family.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If you have lost someone in a wrongful death accident, you need an attorney. You deserve an advocate who knows the law and cares about how the outcome of your case will impact your family. Contact a personal injury lawyer in DuBois today to start protecting your legal right to compensation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

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