Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations: What You Should Know

December 15, 2016 — by Mark T. Flickinger, JD
Tags: Wrongful Death Personal Injury

A Lady Justice figurineThe loss of a family member is a painful experience, especially when the death was caused by someone else's negligence. When the loss of a loved one was preventable, there may be legal grounds for a wrongful death case. A wrongful death case can help spouses, children, and parents obtain compensation when they have lost a family member due to another person's negligence. Although financial compensation cannot ease the pain of losing a loved one, it can hold responsible parties liable and prevent other families from suffering the same fate. To learn more about your legal rights regarding the wrongful death statute of limitations, contact our Provo, UT attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton.

What May Constitute a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a person dies due to someone else's negligence or misconduct, family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You may have a wrongful death case if:

  • The death was caused by negligence
  • The death was intentionally caused
  • The death was a result of medical malpractice
  • The death was caused by a motor vehicle or airplane accident
  • The death occurred during a supervised activity
  • The death was the result of an occupational hazard
  • The surviving family members are suffering monetary damages due to the death

What's the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?

The statute of limitations, or the amount of time that you have to file a legal action, for wrongful death lawsuits varies by each state and circumstance of death. Many states allow two years from the date of the event that caused the death for filing a lawsuit, while others may only allow one year. Wrongful deaths involving minors often have their own rules governing the statute of limitations, as do wrongful deaths involving those with mental disabilities or fraud.

Additionally, many states do not begin the clock for the statute of limitations until the negligence or harm is discovered, commonly called the “date of discovery.” With that said, some states put a time restraint on the date of discovery for cases involving medical malpractice, product liability, or construction accidents. For instance, a lawsuit may be brought within two years from the date of discovery but no more than five years from the date at which the harmful act occurred.

Because the statute of limitations varies and can quickly pass, it's important to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as you suspect the death of a family member to be the result of someone else's negligence.

What to Do if You Suspect the Wrongful Death of a Family Member

In order to determine if the death of a family member is grounds for a wrongful death case, it is important to contact a wrongful death attorney. A wrongful death attorney can evaluate the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one to determine if there are grounds for a lawsuit. If you suspect the death of your family member was caused by someone's negligence or misconduct, it is vital to contact an attorney immediately to ensure a case is filed before the statute of limitations runs out.

Contact the Attorneys of Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton

If you suspect a family member has been the victim of wrongful death, we encourage you to contact our wrongful death attorneys to learn more about your legal rights.