When you lose a loved one, you may want to file a wrongful death case. Here are some commonly asked questions.
Are there time limits when it comes to a wrongful death case?
Yes. The statute of limitations will apply to your case, so it's important to speak to your attorney soon after the death of your loved one. While you may have to wait some time to collect all the medical information on your loved one, the police reports, or other necessary information, you may only have a year or two to file your case. If you miss that time, then you won't be able to file a case at all and lose your right to seek compensation.
Can the discovery rule be applied to my case?
That depends. In some situations, you have only a few years following your loved one's time of death to file your case. However, if you discover the cause of death many years later, like if a suicide was actually a murder, you may be able to file a wrongful death case later on, stating that you did not know the cause until after the initial statute of limitations.
Are there no ways around a statute of limitations if I don't file my case in time?
You can ask the court to waive the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, but you will need to meet very specific criteria. What's more common is called "tolling." This is delaying or suspending the statute of limitations. It usually is done when it's a minor child who may be able to file a claim later in his life when he reaches an older age.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the "Discovery" Rule," accessed May 20, 2016