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Time Limits And “Discovery” Rule In Wrongful Death Explained

Death is an inevitable fact of life. Sooner or later, when our time comes, we will die and leave our loved ones behind. However, when the death becomes so sudden and the surviving family members are not yet ready for such situation, the surviving heirs can file for a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, coping with the sudden death of their family member can be difficult for those left behind.

When the remaining family members decide to push for a wrongful death claim, they need to remember that filing the case is governed by a statute of limitations. Depending on the state where the case was filed, the family of the plaintiff should file the case within the time limit or else they lose their right to sue. In some states, the statute of limitation is one year. In others, the time limit is two or three years.

So when does the time limit commence? The answer to this question is governed by the so-called “discovery” rule. According to this principle, the time limit for filing a wrongful death claim begins when the family of the plaintiff discovers the cause of death of their loved one. In other states, the statute of limitation can be applied at the actual death of the plaintiff.

However, if the statute of limitation has expired, the surviving family members can still file a wrongful suit claim by extending it using three options: 1) tolling the statute of limitation; 2) having it waived by the court; and 3) having it waived by the opposing party. The first option is quite common because the discovery rule is already extending the application of the statute of limitations. On the other hand, the opposing party waiving the time limit is unlikely to be met in a favorable manner.