Statutes of limitations govern the timeline for most types of lawsuits, including wrongful death claims. Each state has distinct laws for handling tort claims, so a plaintiff must be aware of the current local regulations before filing.
A person should also know the exceptions to the typical limits.
General guidelines for wrongful death statute of limitations
A representative of the deceased must file a wrongful death suit within two years. The timeline begins at the point the injured person dies, not when the accident occurred. If the executor of the estate delays any longer, a case may not be possible.
Exceptions to the standard time limit
The circumstances of the case can extend or abbreviate the time for filing. For example, the personal representative of an estate must be over 18. When the sole beneficiary of the decedent is a minor, the state permits delaying a claim until the court appoints a legal guardian that can bring the suit or until the minor reaches 18. If the child has another parent or guardian at the time of the death, the timeline remains two years.
When the defendant is a public entity, the representative must bring a Notice of Claim within 90 days. Medical malpractice cases extend the statute of limitations to two years and six months. When the accused party has a pending criminal case, a plaintiff only has one year to file.
The responsible party for a wrongful death may not be as it appears upon the first review. Plaintiffs benefit by gaining a clear understanding of the situation to avoid missing a rapidly approaching deadline or losing vital evidence.