Every personal injury case has a time limit, formally called the statute of limitations. It’s the time frame within which a plaintiff could file a lawsuit or wrongful death claim. In general, this begins on the date the death occurred or date of injury, lasting until a particular date.
In the state of California, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit or claim for wrongful death within two years of the death of the victim.
Wrongful Death and the Discovery Rule
If you fail to file a wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you might lose your legal right to seek compensation. This is where the discovery rule becomes handy. It states that the time limit begins the date upon discovering the injury or illness or should have reasonably been discovered. This means that you could file a lawsuit or claim even if the general two-year rule has expired.
However, you must be extra careful when using this discovery rule since it could both work both ways; for you or against you, warns a renowned personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Usually, though, it works in a plaintiff’s favor such that if a victim’s cause of death was discovered a year following her or his passing, the statute of limitations begins at that date.
On the other hand, this rule could make everything worse for the plaintiff such that if the death of the victim was caused by an illness or injury that was only discovered just a year prior, the statute of limitations then begun on the date of the diagnosis of the disease or injury.
The Bottom Line
Dealing with all the emotions that come with filing a wrongful death lawsuit could be challenging and extremely stressful. However, if your or a loved one firmly believe that you have a valid claim for wrongful death, you should act as early as possible.
If you’re dealing with the expiry of the statute of limitations, take note that you could request for it to be extended. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your lawsuit.