Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations and Other Things You Should Know

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The most common cause of wrongful death is medical negligence, but it could be due to many other things. Generally speaking, if there was a fatal injury caused by someone else’s neglect, misconduct, or incompetence, then a wrongful death case is warranted. It could also be connected to other illegal activity committed by the other person, such as drunk driving or theft. It could be caused by any individual, company, or entity. The cause could be due to a direct act of an individual that endangered the now deceased, or even the failure to maintain a safe environment, such as a workplace or school.

Whatever the cause may be, there are some important things you should know about the wrongful death statute of limitations and other things. In only a few minutes from reading this article, you can greatly empower yourself.

Who Is Able to File the Lawsuit?  

Immediate family members, including minor children, are usually able to file the claim. If the children are minors, then they are likely to need a guardian to appease the court. Not every state is the same, however. You should check with your state to see if grandparents, other dependents, or stepparents are able to file.

If need be, a personal representative of the estate may file in order to cover the cost of medical care and funeral expenses. In this case, compensation is collected and paid out of the estate.  

Is there a Time Limit on When I Can File? (Statutes of Limitations)

Sadly, although a loved one has wrongfully suffered a fatality, and although family must cope with the permanence of this situation, the state does still limit the time that a next of kin has to seek justice. It is important to know where your state stands on this, even if filing a lawsuit is the last thing you want to think about. It is a good idea to at least know if you will be ok to put off legal action for a few more months or years so that you are not eternally barred from the ability to hold the offending person, business, or entity responsible.  

Some states allow three years, but others only allow one year from the date that the tragedy took place. In the state of Illinois, the statute of limitations allows one year to file, or if it can be considered a personal injury case, then the time limit extends to two years.  

What Are the Damages that Can Be Collected?

While damages collected cannot make up for the loss of a loved one, they do help ease financial struggles and hold the negligent party accountable for the devastating event that they caused. Not every state supports all types of compensation. A wrongful death attorney can help you understand the wrongful death statutes and laws in your state.

Dependents are entitled to damages (or out-of-court settlement) such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of companion/ family member
  • Loss of anticipated earnings
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of support system
  • Inheritance loss
  • Additional expenses (such as medical, funeral)

Will the Offender Be Tried as a Criminal?

Since a wrongful death suit is a civil lawsuit, there are no criminal charges. The offender will not be arrested. The question here is liability. Malicious intent is tried in a murder case that is prosecuted by the state or federal government, not an individual.

What to Do if You Are Ready to File

If you believe that you have a wrongful death case, the next step is to consult a wrongful death lawyer. If it is determined that you do have a case, the lawyer can proceed to help you determine your legal options and the best path to take. You will work together to gather necessary evidence and you will be able to rest assured that all necessary paperwork is properly handled in a timely manner that complies with the wrongful death legal statutes in your state. Your loved one deserves justice and you are due to be compensated. Contact a wrongful death attorney now.