If you have reason to file a wrongful death case in California, there are many reasons that you might not want to file right away. However, you do not have forever to file it. Keep reading to get the basics of the statute of limitations on these cases but contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 sooner rather than later to get your free legal consultation.
The California Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases is Two Years
In most cases, the loved ones of the deceased have two years to file a wrongful death personal injury case. That clock begins on the date of the death of the victim. Note that this is not the date of the actual injury. For example, if a person is involved in a serious car accident and goes into a coma, then dies six months later, the family would have two years from the date of the death – not the date the person went into a coma.
The Definition of the Statute of Limitations
Legally speaking, the statute of limitations refers to the amount of time a person has to bring a lawsuit against another party. This is because the court does not want people suing others over things that happened ten years ago. As time goes on, evidence fades and memories are not reliable. This is why a person who wants to bring legal action should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
There Are Exceptions to the Two Year Rule
Of course, there are always people who could not file within the two years and want to know if they still have options. The answer is yes – in some circumstances. There are ways that the law might “toll” (i.e., pause) the statute of limitations. For example, if the family of the victim does not discover the death until after the date of death, it might toll to the date of the discovery.
For example, if a person is killed in a car accident in the middle of nowhere and the accident site is not found for seven months, then the plaintiff’s attorney might be able to successfully argue that the statute of limitations should begin at the seven-month mark, not the date of the death.
Likewise, in some cases, the family knows of the death but does not know it was a wrongful death. For example, if the coroner wrongly identified the cause of death, an investigation is later date, and the cause of death is changed. In that case, a judge might agree that the two years begins when the coroner changed the cause of death and the family was advised.
If you have a case in which you are not sure if the statute of limitations has expired or not, we recommend you contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.