- April 16, 2020
- In wrongful Death
All personal injury claims, including wrongful death cases, have inherent time limits for when they must be filed. These time limits are called “statutes of limitations.” If you fail to file your claim within the statute of limitations period, you may forever be barred from suing for compensation.
Each state has its own statute of limitations pertaining to wrongful death actions. While some states have a one-year time frame, most have two or three years. These different time frames make it very important for you to immediately consult with a qualified local wrongful death attorney to determine the law of your jurisdiction and to help determine if you have a valid wrongful death claim.
What is a Wrongful Death Action?
Under California law, a “wrongful death action” arises when someone dies as a result of another person or entity’s wrongful acts or negligence. A wrongful death action may be brought by the decedent’s survivors or estate to seek the following types of damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical and hospital bills for the deceased person’s final illness or injury.
- Lost income or potential income the deceased would have reasonably been expected to earn had they lived.
Wrongful death actions in California must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death.
The “Discovery Rule” in a Wrongful Death Action
The statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is when the party bringing the suit discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the cause of the decedent’s death. A rule, generally referred to as the “discovery rule,” may be applied in wrongful death actions to determine whether the decedent knew or should have known the cause of the illness or injury before their death, so as to start the running of the limitations period in the wrongful death claim before the decedent’s death.
Tolling a Statute of Limitations Period
All may not be lost if time is running out on your statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. Below are three last resort options to extend the time limit:
- Tolling the statute of limitations
- Ask the court to waive the statute of limitations.
- Ask the opposing counsel to waive the statute of limitations
It should be noted that for the court to waive the statute of limitations period, you must meet very specific criteria. And in most cases, requesting a waiver from the opposing party may not be met with a positive response. As such, it is best to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to file a timely claim.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation. The skillful attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas specialize in all types of personal injury accidents and have successfully attained service and results that go beyond expectations. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of the attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.