How Long Do You Have to File Wrongful Death?

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If you believe that a loved one has died because of negligence or deliberate actions by another person or by a company, you may be considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In south Florida, retaining the services of a Deerfield Beach personal injury attorney is not difficult, but there are some considerations to keep in mind when you begin the process of pursuing your claim.

Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the preventable actions of another person. Some examples include reckless behaviors (speeding, failing to obey a traffic signal, and many other dangerous activities); negligent, such as a company inadequately warning about potential dangers of a product. Finally, deliberate actions can also be taken into account in a wrongful death suit; for example, murder. In these cases, family members may file a civil lawsuit in order to collect damages to compensate them for the emotional and financial impacts of the death.

Each state has its own statutes of limitation for various types of lawsuits; in the case of wrongful death lawsuits, that timeframe is usually between one and three years. In some cases, the timeframe is dependent on the way in which the individual died, and the location. For example, in Illinois, naming a municipality as a defendant cuts the timeframe in half—from two years to one year. If you do not file suit within the allowed time, you will not be able to recover compensation; however, there are some circumstances that can “reset” the time allotted for the lawsuit. For example, if the death was ruled as being from natural causes originally, but medical malpractice comes to light years later, that can open up a new timeframe. Additionally, if someone deliberately concealed important information regarding the cause of death, or in some cases, if a product used on or by your loved one is later found defective, the state may calculate starting from the time of discovery. Keep in mind, however, that some states specifically exclude dangerous or defective products from consideration.

Unfortunately, if death occurs long after the injury—years later, for example—you may not be able to file a wrongful death claim. Because the individual survived the injury itself, the claim would fall under personal injury law, and be subject to the statutes of limitation for that particular type of claim, as opposed to wrongful death restrictions. Usually the time limit for personal injury claims is between one and six years, varying by state; if that time has passed, then the right to damages is forfeited.

It is important to contact an attorney quickly if you believe that your loved one was a victim of wrongful death at the hands of another individual or company. A personal injury attorney, such as south Florida personal injury lawyers Zimmerman & Frachtman can help you put together a strong case quickly. At Zimmerman & Frachtman we are proud to provide free consultation, and we do not charge unless we win your case.

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