A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought against a defendant who’s responsible for someone else’s death due to negligence. These claims allow those who were close to the deceased person to receive compensation for their loss or any trauma they may be experiencing.
Discover more information about wrongful death claims.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Claim?
Even though it’s a stressful time for family members, it’s important to file a wrongful death claim as soon as possible. All civil actions, including ones regarding death, have time limits for when they must be filed; this is known as a statute of limitations.
Learn more about the statute of limitations and how it can impact your lawsuit.
General Information on Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim can arise from any fatal situation, such as:
- Car Crashes
- Workplace Mishaps
- Negligent Security
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability Cases
They differ from personal injury claims because a survivor can file the complaint on behalf of the deceased person. The following people can file a claim:
- The surviving spouse
- The surviving domestic partner
- The deceased person’s children
- Anyone who the law may entitle to property through succession, such as parents or siblings
- Parties who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased person, such as a putative spouse, stepchildren, or the putative spouse’s children
You can file a lawsuit against a person, company, or government agency. For instance, in a car accident involving a drunk driver and hazardous road conditions, a wrongful death action may include the following defendants:
- The drunk driver
- The constructor of the faulty road
- The manufacturer or distributor of a defective part of the vehicle
- The person who sold or gave alcohol to the impaired driver
Understanding Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a court case, and it applies to both civil and criminal matters. The statute of limitations for some cases is six months, but for more severe crimes, such as felonies, it ranges from three to six years. However, some crimes have no time limit, and charges can be filed at any time, even decades after the crime occurred.
Each state has its own statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. For example, in Utah, it must be filed within two years of the date of the person’s death.
Can the Statute of Limitations Ever Pause?
All hope is not lost if the statute of limitations period for your case expires. Here are two last resort options that may extend the time limit:
Tolling: This refers to pausing the statute of limitations, which usually only happens if a criminal flees their state or conceals evidence.
Having the statute of limitations waived by the court: A plaintiff may ask the judge to waive the statute of limitations so they can file a lawsuit. However, these attempts are usually unsuccessful, as specific criteria must be met.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Can Help
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can help you receive damages before the statute of limitations runs out. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.