Statute of limitations is defined as a period of time within which certain kinds of legal actions should be brought forth. In U.S., the statute of limitations for wrongful death is the period within which an action must be filed. This period depends on the state in which the death occurred and is different for different states. Generally, this period can vary from six months to up to 3 years. The actual wrongful death statute of limitations can be changed in certain exceptional situations wherein the period may be extended or restricted.
In the U.S., wrongful death is considered as a civil case. Here, if the family members or close relatives of the deceased have reason to believe that the death happened because of the negligence on the part of another person or party, then they can file a wrongful death lawsuit against them in order to receive damages for the death. Here, that a wrongful death occurred needs to be proved only with a ‘preponderance of evidence,’ unlike criminal cases of murder or homicide where the case has to be proved ‘beyond any reasonable doubt.’ This means that an individual may be found to be not guilty in a criminal court, but at the same time may be convicted for the same offense in a civil court.
As mentioned earlier, the actual wrongful death statute of limitations varies from state to state and on the circumstances surrounding the death. For instance, the statute of limitations is two years in Arizona, California and Alabama; the two-year period starting from the date on which the death occurred. However, in California, wrongful death due to exposure to asbestos has a statute of limitations of only one year, the period starting from the date of death or from when the claimant realized that the death was due to the asbestos, whichever is later. Such an exception is known as the ‘discovery rule.’ This allows you to extend the prescribed statute of limitations in instances where it was not reasonably possible to realize that the death was a wrongful one.
These are some details regarding the statute of limitations for wrongful death. As the statute of limitations vary from state to state, it is important that you fully understand the laws applicable within the state where the wrongful death occurred. Consult a legal professional within the state to help you with the formalities associated with filing a wrongful death lawsuit.Google+