The Statute of Limitations on California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

November 24, 2020

When you lose a loved one in a preventable accident, it is devastating on multiple levels. Losing someone you care about is hard enough, but knowing it didn’t have to end that way is even worse. Many families have to decide whether they want to sue for wrongful death, whether to help recoup medical and other costs, or to ensure that the responsible party fixes the problem.

The worst part is that even when you’re deep in grief, you’ll need to decide whether you plan to sue. There is a statute of limitations on wrongful death in Redding, CA, and if you let the statutory period go by, you forfeit your right to sue.

If you’re considering a wrongful death lawsuit, here’s what you need to know.

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is described in California as “the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Examples of wrongful death include medical malpractice, reckless driving or failing to fix a safety hazard on your property.

How long is California’s statute of limitations for wrongful death?

The term “statute of limitations” is the legal policy that you have a finite amount of time to file a lawsuit. This ensures that people aren’t being brought to court for offenses committed or conflicts created ages ago. The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the less likely you’ll be able to produce relevant evidence, witness testimony and other key case information.

In California, you have two years from the victim’s date of death to file a wrongful death suit.

Are there exceptions to the wrongful death statute of limitations?

In some cases, wrongful death suits must be filed earlier, but in others, the time period is extended:

  • Where the government is involved: If you plan to sue a government entity for wrongful death, you only have six months from the date of death to file. This includes anything remotely concerning the government. For example, accidents in public schools and with government vehicles are considered government related. Make sure to call an attorney right away.
  • Medical malpractice: In medical malpractice cases, you have three years from the date of injury to file, or one year from the date where the injury should have been discovered. This is another situation where you’ll need to talk to a lawyer immediately, lest you lose out on your chance to file.
  • When the discovery rule applies: Finally, if you didn’t discover the family member’s death until long afterward, the statute of limitations starts running from the date the death was or should have been discovered.

Since the time you can wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit can vary in Redding, CA, the best course of action is always to call a personal injury attorney right away. If you think your case may fall under the above exceptions, time is particularly of the essence.

Reach out to The Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. for assistance with your wrongful death claim.

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