The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in California is two years in most cases. That means that people only have a short window to build and bring a case after the wrongful death of a loved one. Other factors, however, including the discovery rule, can also affect the statute of limitations.
Understanding wrongful death
A wrongful death suit is a type of civil lawsuit. It can be brought against the person or entity that is liable for the death of a person. Wrongful death suits are regulated at the state level. Usually, wrongful death claims are brought by close relatives, or on behalf of minor children. These actions are separate from any criminal proceedings related to the death.
The discovery rule
When it comes to wrongful death, the statute of limitations typically starts at the date of the decedent’s death. The discovery rule can change that. This rule holds that if the decedent was aware they were dying or should have been, the statute of limitations starts from that date. The effect of this rule is to shorten the time family members have to file an action after death.
If you have lost a loved one and someone else can be held responsible, it’s important to act quickly. By contacting an experienced lawyer early, you may be able to start building a case efficiently. An attorney may also be able to help you know if there’s a chance you can petition to have the statute of limitations extended. Wrongful deaths are very specific actions, and having a lawyer at your side can help streamline the court process for your family.