When a loved one passes away from injuries sustained in a personal injury accident, surviving family members could have the legal right to bring a wrongful death claim in California. However, you only have a limited amount of time to resolve your claim or file a lawsuit. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. The wrongful death statute of limitations in California is a hard deadline. If you lost a family member due to another party’s negligence, it’s best to immediately contact the California wrongful death attorney at Silva Injury Law.
What Is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California?
In general, surviving family members have two years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California. With general personal injury claims, it’s typically two years from the date of injury. For example, if Joe sustained injuries in a car accident, he has two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If Joe passes away from his injuries one year after the accident, Joe’s surviving family members could have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
Exceptions to the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California
While the general rule is two years from the date of death, you will find several exceptions apply. One of these is the delayed discovery rule (Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions 455). This rule applies when the reason for the person’s death is unknown at the time of their death. As an example, suppose Jane dies of unexplained causes. Two months later, Jane’s family found out that toxic exposure to a chemical at her apartment complex caused her death. In this situation, the two-year clock would start running when the medical results come in.
Other potential exceptions involve claims against government entities, medical malpractice cases, and those involving a minor. With a government entity involved, you might only have six months to file. Medical malpractice cases can be very complicated, so the law allows three years from the date of death to file a claim in most cases. If the plaintiff is a minor and suing for their parent’s death, they could have two years from their 18th birthday.
You should contact a lawyer right away if you believe your case involves an exception to the wrongful death statute of limitations in California. It’s better to understand your legal obligations rather than risk jeopardizing your entire case.
What Happens If You Miss the Filing Deadline?
Courts are not very forgiving regarding a missed statute of limitations. The judge will most likely throw the lawsuit out, which means you and your family won’t receive compensation.
Whether you were in the middle of negotiations or close to a final settlement, it won’t matter. The defendants are under no legal obligation to continue settlement talks once the statute passes. You would have to show proof of filing before the deadline if you want negotiations to continue. That’s why we recommend hiring a California wrongful death lawyer following your family member’s death. Having legal representation from the start helps protect your legal rights and could result in a substantially higher settlement.
Contact Silva Injury Law Today
Understanding the wrongful death statute of limitations in California can be very tricky. You need a skilled legal advocate on your side who can assist you. At Silva Injury Law, we understand you and your family are dealing with an unspeakable tragedy. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit isn’t necessarily about collecting compensation but ensuring the responsible parties are held liable. Pursuing a wrongful death claim could help other families avoid experiencing the same type of tragedy.
When you hire Silva Injury Law, we will always treat you as part of our family. Our priority is to help you get closure and ease the unexpected financial burden your family is facing. We won’t drag out your case by engaging in unnecessary legal battles that extend for years. We will always strive to be professional and courteous while being aggressive when necessary. And we are not afraid to take a case to trial if the opposition won’t be reasonable. Attorney Michael Joe Silva previously worked as a prosecutor. This experience gives him insight into how to build the strongest case possible. We want to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Contact our office today and schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.
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At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.