If someone has caused the death of a loved one, you will need time to take care of the aftermath. The well-being of yourself and your family comes first. But you must take action to recover damages within a reasonable amount of time to avoid losing a chance to recover. The law sets a time limit, called the statute of limitations.
The Two Year Limit
In general, most states allow two years from the time of the injury to bring a wrongful death claim. You should talk to a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the incident, because this may vary. A few states allow as little as one year. Some states allow a longer amount of time.
Lawmakers do this to prevent plaintiffs from attempting to bring lawsuits many years or even decades after the incident. This is, among other things, because it’s difficult for witnesses to recall things that happened long after the fact.
Note that the date of the injury often starts the time limit, not the death. When a person dies some time after suffering an injury, this may limit the time available to decide on legal action.
The Time of Discovery May Extend This Limit
While all states have statutes of limitations, some circumstances may extend the amount of time you have. For example, your loved one died due to an injury, but you did not discover who caused the injury until someone completed an investigation. In this situation, the time under the statute of limitations would start when you learned this.
In some cases, the idea of “reasonable discovery” may be a point of contention. For example, your loved one suffered complications from a surgery and passed away. If you failed to find out the cause of his or her death until years later, the opposing side may argue that you should have made efforts to find out sooner.
Some States Place Absolute Limits on the Statute of Limitations
Some states have capped the amount of time available for discovery. Regardless of the actual circumstances, there is a certain amount of time for discovery, plus the statute of limitations. No more time is available.
Lawsuits Can Extend Beyond the Statute of Limitations Once They Begin
Lawsuits may take some time once they begin. As long as they are proceeding, the statute of limitations need not concern you. But you must bring a lawsuit before this time runs out.
Understanding the statute of limitations can be complex. You should talk to a wrongful death lawyer in Tampa, FL, such as from Jeff Murphy Law, as soon as possible after the wrongful death of a loved one. This is the best way to ensure your rights are protected.