What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims?
“Statute of limitations” is the legal term for the length of time to bring a claim. All civil actions are subject to a statutory time limit.
In Florida, wrongful death claims must be brought within two years of the victim’s passing. Failure to bring a claim before the statute of limitations expires will almost certainly result in the court dismissing your case.
Two years is not a lot of time for grieving families to pursue compensation for the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another party. If your loved one died in an accident caused by someone else, a wrongful death attorney can advise you of your family’s legal options and get started on your case promptly.
When Does the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Begin?
A wrongful death claim may arise from many of the same situations as a personal injury claim. Some of the most common grounds for these cases include:
Whether one of these or another type of accident results in personal injury or wrongful death, the clock typically starts when the injury or accident occurs. However, if the victim is not killed instantly, the statute of limitations won’t begin until the date of death.
Depending on the circumstances, this could be weeks or even months after the (ultimately fatal) injury.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Apply?
One of the most important things to understand about the statute of limitations is that it refers to the time you have to bring a wrongful death claim (i.e., file a lawsuit). It does not represent the deadline for your case to be resolved.
Claims involving significant damages can take years to wend their way through the courts. Fortunately, as long as the family files suit for wrongful death within the statute of limitations, they are not denied the opportunity to recover compensation even if the case takes longer than two years for a settlement to be reached or a favorable judgment to be won in court.
Will I Need to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims strive to recover damages for the loss of a person. As such, the damages in these claims tend to be very high, which increases the likelihood that the matter will have to be decided in court.
That said, it is not impossible for a wrongful death claim to be settled out of court. You and your family might never even have to file a lawsuit.
However, surviving family members must be aware of the statute of limitations as the case progresses. If it seems like negotiations are dragging out or the likelihood of a settlement is slim, your attorney may recommend filing suit to ensure that you do not exceed the two-year statute of limitations.
When Should I Start a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you believe someone else’s negligence caused the death of your loved one, it is crucial to speak to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Although you may feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed by the grief associated with the sudden loss, seeking prompt legal counsel is key for ensuring that a potential claim is resolved in a timely fashion.
One of the benefits of contacting a lawyer sooner than later is the ability to entrust your legal concerns and considerations to a qualified professional. Filing a claim is difficult under any circumstances, especially when you are coping with a death in the family.
Your attorney can take a number of steps on your family’s behalf, enabling you and your relatives to focus on healing. These steps include:
- Investigating the circumstances of your loved one’s death
- Identifying the party or parties that may be at fault
- Collecting evidence in support of your claim, including medical records, autopsy reports, photographs, witness statements, etc.
- Hiring experts to assess the evidence and provide testimony
- Calculating the compensation in your case, including damages to the estate and the survivors
Given the statute of limitations for wrongful death, these steps must be taken quickly. Without the assistance and guidance of an attorney, families typically struggle to do what is necessary to build a case on their own – especially with a deadline looming.
Don’t Delay – Get Started on Your Wrongful Death Claim Sooner Than Later
Wrongful death claims can be complicated. Defendants often dispute liability for someone’s death, and their insurance companies frequently try to pay as little as possible for the often significant losses faced by surviving loved ones. It is not uncommon for these parties to attempt to “run out the clock,” leaving families with no legal recourse after the statute of limitations expires.
The attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo take prompt and aggressive action to ensure that your case is handled well within the time limit imposed by law. We prepare each case as though it will go to court, and never hesitate to file suit and proceed to trial if it means achieving superior results on behalf of our clients.
Please contact Kogan & DiSalvo by calling (561) 375-9500 today for a free case evaluation. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients throughout Florida from offices in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Boynton Beach, Stuart, and Delray Beach.