In the unfortunate and tragic circumstance that you have lost a loved one due to negligence, you might be wondering what legal action you can take. The death of a loved one caused by negligence can not only cause immense grief and emotional trauma, but it can also leave a family with heavy financial burdens.
Not every death can result in a wrongful death lawsuit, just as not anyone can broach a wrongful death lawsuit. During this turbulent time, it is essential to be aware of these factors and the time frame surrounding how soon you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is brought forward, in most cases, by an immediate family member. This type of lawsuit is filed when negligence has resulted in the death of a loved one. Simply put, a wrongful death claim can be perceived as a type of personal injury claim where a family will claim on behalf of the decedent.
The laws surrounding wrongful deaths often consider that no monetary rewards can replace a loved one. However, often this is the only type of resolution that is available. Broadly speaking, there are four instances where a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought:
A Victim Has Died Due to Medical Malpractice
A wrongful death lawsuit can be initiated when it can be proved that the victim has died directly due to their doctor’s negligent actions.
A Victim Has Died Due to Negligent Actions Associated with a Car Accident
If a victim has died due to injuries obtained during a car accident and this can be proven to be the result of negligence, then a wrongful death claim can be made.
A Victim Was Killed Intentionally
If it can be proven that the victim was killed deliberately often, a wrongful death lawsuit can be made even if there is already a criminal case with the state.
A Victim Was Killed due to Negligent Actions of Another
If someone else’s negligence was the direct cause of a victim’s death, they can be accountable for the death. Perhaps this is a work-related accident where the employer was informed of a hazard and failed to properly address it, leading to their death.
How Soon Should You File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you should be aware of the law that each state has called the statute of limitations. This law sets a time limit on how quickly you will need to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It is incredibly important to consider utilizing the services of a wrongful death lawyer as they can guide you through this process.
The time frame that you will have to file a wrongful death lawsuit varies from state to state. However, there isn’t a state with a statute of limitations law which stipulates that you must file a claim within one year. In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit will have to be filed within two years or longer.
Depending on the state, you might have to file a lawsuit from the date of death, while in other states, the claim period will only commence once there has been a discovery of harm. If you miss the time frame, you won’t be able to make a wrongful death claim.
Additionally, you should note this instance is an exception to the general rule: Should you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the government or an employee of the government, there could be a more stringent time frame applicable. It will have to be proven that the government or the government employee was involved or caused the decedent’s death. A claim or notice of claim would have to be submitted to the government often within ninety days.
In essence, a wrongful death lawsuit will have to be filed according to the statute of limitations of the state in which you are making a claim. Failure to file within a specific time frame or failure to comply with any pre-lawsuit claim notice requirements could result in you being unable to file a wrongful death lawsuit.