If you are going to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is essential that you understand and comply with the statute of limitations. The one applying to the vast majority of cases resulting from wrongful deaths can be found at the California Code of Civil Procedure’s Section 335.1. Specifically, it states any (legal) action that results from the demise of an individual caused by the wrongful act or negligence of someone else has to be filed inside two years.
The time limit set out by the California law to file a lawsuit is two years. In other words, you have twenty-four months in which to file after the underlying accident or death date, whichever applies to your particular situation. If a wrongful death suit is not filed by this time limit, then it cannot be brought in the court and will be dismissed, except as otherwise provided by statute.
In addition to personal injury cases, this time limit statute applies to cases that lead to one’s demise. When a person dies in a car accident, for instance, his or her surviving family would have a couple of years from the date to file a wrongful death claim. If one enters and remains in comatose for twelve months before he or she dies, the family would have further twenty-four months after the demise date.
Every state in the US has statute of limitations. They can vary from a type of case and one state to the other one. It can be a daunting task sorting through the US state laws in order to find the appropriate time limits statute. To further complicate matters, the statute for the death claims can differ depending upon the wrongful, underlying cause of demise.
The ideal way to be certain about the time limit in your particular case is to talk the matter with an experienced wrongful death attorney California based. In the meantime, below are some general rules with examples that may likely change the twenty-four-month period to file a wrongful death claim.
- An essential exception to this deadline statute is the one called the “discovery rule”. In situations where the reason of an individual’s demise was not apparent at the time of death, but it is discovered later, then it might extend the time his or her family member has to take a legal action. If this rule applies, then the time limit to file a wrongful death suit will be twenty-four months starting from the day on which its cause is ascertained.
- If the case is being made against a US public entity, say a sensational road design case against California, the deceased person’s heirs have just half a year to file a wrongful death claim with that entity. Then, usually within forty-five days, it will deny the claim, and they have a further six months in which to file a wrongful death suit.
- If a person suing his or her parent’s wrongful demise is a minor, then he or she has until a couple of years from the day they turn eighteen. Further, if the case is one involving a medical malpractice, then special rules are there regardless of whether it is a wrongful death or a personal injury. In such a case, people usually have just twelve months from the demise date. Even that one has exceptions, although these are a few good general rules.
The Section 340.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure sets out the deadline in the event one’s demise was caused by a medical professional’s negligent actions. In such cases, the party’s family members have thirty-six months from the date of injury, or twelve months from the date when it was discovered or should have been discovered to file a claim. This can be complicated, so it is essential you discuss the statute with an attorney right away if you feel your family member was a medical malpractice victim.
There are cases also where the government itself was at fault. Even if a government employee or entity was liable for a person’s wrongful demise, his or her family has half a year to file a wrongful death claim. This can comprise car accidents with US city vehicles, accidents that take place at public schools, malpractice at a medical center run by the government, and more.
California is what they call a “strict liability state”. This means if you do not file a claim correctly, then this rule may keep you from having it heard in the court. Time is of the essence, indeed, in any case, including one that involves even the government, so better it is to consult with a lawyer right away after the death of a family member. An attorney can help you make sure you file your claim before this time limit passes.