Home Blog Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations (All You Need To Know)

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations (All You Need To Know)

What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

What is the time limit of filing a wrongful death lawsuit?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

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What Is Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitation for a wrongful death case is the legal time period allotted to an injured party to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

To better understand this concept, let’s break the notion down to its components:

  • What is wrongful death?
  • What is the statute of limitations?

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is an unfortunate death of a person caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful act.

In a typical personal injury case, the victim files a lawsuit against the defendant seeking damages for the injuries suffered due to the defendant’s negligence.

However, in the context of a “wrongful death” case, the victim of the accident or injury dies leaving behind his or her family and other dependents.

In this context, a wrongful death case is a type of personal injury lawsuit filed when the victim of the injury has died.

The deceased person’s estate or representatives maintain an action against the person having caused the death of the victim and may seek compensation for economic and noneconomic damages.

Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations refers to the time period when an injured person can file a lawsuit against another.

It’s important that you consult with a wrongful death attorney to ensure you file your lawsuit within the appropriate time periods based on the applicable laws.

For example, in some states, the statute of limitations to file suit for wrongful death is three years of the date of death.

In other words, an injured person will have three years, from the day the victim dies, to file a lawsuit.

In Florida, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is two years from the date of date based on the Florida Statute § 95.11.

Time Limit For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim

Every state establishes a specific time period allowing individuals to file lawsuits for various legal claims, particularly wrongful death actions.

In general, a legal action must be filed in court within two years from the wrongful act that caused the death of the victim.

However, the statute of limitations may vary in different situations.

It’s important that you consult with a wrongful death attorney for legal advice in regards to the unique aspects of your case.

For example, in some states like in Florida, the statute of limitations will start from the day of the death as opposed to the day of the misconduct.

There are instances where the statute of limitations for wrongful death are shorter such as one year.

There may be special rules that apply to minors and persons with mental disabilities.

For instance, a minor may have a two-year period from the moment he or she reaches the age of majority.

Cases involving fraud or intentional acts may also have a varying duration allotted to file lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.

Exceptions to Wrongful Death Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

There may be exceptions with respect to the time limits you may have to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

For examples, some of the exceptions include:

  • Medical malpractice 
  • Homicide and murder
  • Government entity 

In the context of medical malpractice, a person may die due to a medical professional’s negligence but the family only discovers the cause for wrongful death at a later point in time.

In this case, depending on the applicable laws of your state, the court may extend the statute of limitations for the duration of a reasonable investigation before the filing of a lawsuit.

In the context of homicides and murder, it may take a long time before the individual is arrested and brought to justice.

As a result, some state laws allow for the statute of limitations to be extended until the offender is identified and apprehended.

Finally, filing a lawsuit against a government entity may be extended as well depending on the state.

There may also be special rules with respect to statute of limitations clock ticking only as of the moment the cause of action for wrongful death is discovered (this is referred to as the “date of discovery”).

This can happen in medical malpractice cases where a doctor’s misdiagnosis or error causing the death of the patient is only discovered at a later point in time.

Eligible Lawsuits For Wrongful Death Within The Statute of Limitations

What are the types of lawsuits that are qualified to be filed within the legally established wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitation?

In essence, the death of a person does not necessarily qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit.

It’s important to assess the requirements of the law in your state with an experienced attorney to understand what needs to be proven in court.

For example, in Florida, the estate of a deceased person may bring a valid lawsuit when a wrongful act, negligence, breach of contract, or breach of warranty results in the death of a person.

As a result, to win the case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that:

  • There was wrongful conduct, negligent act, breach of contract, or breach of warranty
  • The conduct or breach caused the death of the victim
  • If the victim was alive, he or she would have been entitled to compensation 

Tolling The Statute of Limitations

There are situations when an attorney can request that the court “pause” the statute of limitations clock.

This may be done by filing a motion to toll the statute of limitations.

Here are some grounds based on which a court may toll the statute of limitations:

  • The defendant was responsible for many delays 
  • The plaintiff’s diminished legal capacity 
  • Late discovery of the harm
  • Other party’s fraudulent concealment of evidence

There may be other grounds a court may accept to pause the time period for the filing of a complaint but the grounds need to be strong and objective.

A court will not toll the statute of limitations when the party in question was responsible for the delay in taking action.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations By State

To give you a general sense of the statute of limitations per state for wrongful death, the below is the list by state (you must ensure you verify with your attorney as these dates are for your information only):

  • Alabama – 2 years
  • Alaska – 2 years
  • Arizona – 2 years
  • Arkansas – 3 years
  • California – 2 years
  • Colorado – 2 years
  • Connecticut – 2 years
  • Delaware – 2 years
  • District of Columbia – 3 years
  • Florida – 4 years
  • Georgia – 2 years
  • Hawaii – 2 years
  • Idaho – 2 years
  • Illinois – 2 years
  • Indiana – 2 years
  • Iowa – 2 years
  • Kansas – 2 years
  • Kentucky – 1 year
  • Louisiana – 1 year
  • Maine – 6 years
  • Maryland – 3 years
  • Massachusetts – 3 years
  • Michigan – 3 years
  • Minnesota – 2 years
  • Mississippi – 3 years
  • Missouri – 5 years
  • Montana – 3 years
  • Nebraska – 4 years
  • Nevada – 2 years
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 2 years
  • Montana – 3 years
  • Nebraska – 4 years
  • Nevada – 2 years
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 2 years
  • New Mexico – 3 years
  • New York – 3 years
  • North Carolina – 3 years
  • North Dakota – 2 years
  • Ohio – 2 years
  • Oklahoma – 2 years
  • Oregon – 2 years
  • Pennsylvania – 2 years
  • Rhode Island – 3 years
  • South Carolina – 3 years
  • South Dakota – 3 years
  • Tennessee – 1 year
  • Texas – 2 years
  • Utah – 4 years
  • Vermont – 3 years
  • Virginia – 2 years
  • Washington – 3 years
  • West Virginia – 2 years
  • Wisconsin – 3 years
  • Wyoming – 4 years

As you can see, for most states, it’s two years.

Some go as low as one year (Kentucky) and others as high as six years (Maine).

Statute of Limitations On Wrongful Death Takeaways 

Is there a statute of limitations on a wrongful death suit?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitation

  • Wrongful death actions must be filed within the time limits established by state laws (referred to as statute of limitations)
  • The court will accept to hear the matter if the action is filed within the limitations period, otherwise, the case will be dismissed with prejudice 
  • In general, the time period is two years (although you need to verify the time period for your state) but can be shorter or can also be longer 
  • There are exceptions to the time limitations where a person may have more time to file a lawsuit, namely based on the “discovery rule” where the cause of action was discovered later in time
Bicycle accidents 
Boating accident 
Breach of contract 
Breach of warranty
Car accident
Date of discovery 
Depraved indifference 
Discovery rule 
Medical malpractice
Offshore accident 
Personal injury lawsuit 
Product liability 
Truck accidents
Darden hearing
Daubert motion 
Disability lawyer 
Houston maritime attorney 
Motion to dismiss
Motorcycle accident attorney
Personal injury lawyer
Plea in bar 
Statute of repose 
Survival action 
Tolling agreement 
Workers’ compensation lawyer 
Wrongful death attorney

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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