It’s always a tragic situation when you lose a loved one as the result of someone else’s negligence. Not only does this cause intense emotional pain, but an unexpected death can leave devastating financial burdens on a family such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and a loss of wages or medical insurance.

Monetary compensation can never bring a loved one back, but it can help lessen the stress associated with sudden, unexpected expenses. Unfortunately, many family members avoid filing a wrongful death lawsuit until it’s too late because they are coping with their loss and grief. Finding out that they are no longer eligible to file a lawsuit may come as another blow to a family who has already lost so much.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

Each state has a certain time limit during which you must file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are going to do so. This is known as the “statute of limitations” and is generally somewhere around two years after the date of the negligence that caused the victim’s death. There are certain types of cases, however, where the statute of limitations may only be one year after the occurrence.

Special rules exist for people with a mental disability, cases that include fraud or deliberate acts, as well as cases that involve minors. Minors usually have two years to file a lawsuit from their “date of maturity.”

Sometimes, the statute of limitations starts once the harm was discovered. This is often referred to as the “date of discovery.” There are certain situations where the neglect that causes death may not be understood for several years. For example, a doctor that fails to diagnose a patient with a condition that leads to their death may not be discovered until the patient learns of the condition for the first time.

Some states may implement a limit on the date of discovery in specific cases such as product liability, construction cases, legal malpractice, or medical malpractice. An example may be that a state will allow a survivor to file a claim within two years from the date of discovery, but no more than four years from the actual castigation of the harm.

Wrongful death lawsuits often include complicated areas of law and lead to large damages being awarded. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consult with a wrongful death lawyer. This can help ensure that your case gets filed during the appropriate time, by the appropriate people.