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The statute of limitations and wrongful death lawsuits

The loss of a loved one due to another person's negligence is a difficult pill to swallow. During the grieving process, family members of the deceased may simply wonder how they can get by day-to-day, financially. For these reasons, it may be possible for them to seek a wrongful death suit against the negligent party. However, the laws in Connecticut and in all other states count down to the time when a lawsuit against a negligent party who caused the wrongful death is no longer allowed. These time limits, known as statutes of limitations, are pivotal when pursuing compensation via a lawsuit. For this reason, the issue needs to be fully understood, particularly in the wrongful death context.

Typically, under the statute of limitation, a victim must file a lawsuit within a given period of time, or he or she will lose the ability to file a claim. What this time period is, however, differs from state to state. In general, in a wrongful death suit, the clock starts ticking when the deceased's family either learns or should have done so, through reasonable efforts, of the cause of their loved one's death.

It is critical to note that in some cases, wrongful death lawsuits may be affected if the death is caused by injuries suffered in an accident, and the victim failed to bring an action for those personal injuries within the specified time limits. In these instances, the derivative wrongful death lawsuit may also be disallowed, resulting in the surviving family losing out on much needed compensation.

A successful wrongful death lawsuit can bring a surviving family money to help cover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses and other losses. However, there are many factual, legal and logistical issues that must be properly addressed in order to give a claim a chance at success. With this in mind, many find it beneficial to seek help from a legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the 'Discovery' Rule," accessed on Aug. 1, 2016

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James L. O’Rourke, ESQ
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