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Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death

A wrongful death statute of limitation is a law that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit from the date of the negligent act. This, therefore, means that the lawsuits must be filed within a certain period of time. When the statute of limitation “runs out” then it simply means that the chance to make a legal claim has “expired” and the court will not hear your case unless it has an exemption. The period of time given to file a lawsuit varies depending on the type of claim and this, therefore, implies that different types of cases have different deadlines. 

In as much as filing a lawsuit against the party whose negligence or misconduct caused the death of your loved one won’t bring them back, the process may help bring healing and provide financial support that the deceased would have provided if the incident never happened. However, the statute of limitation in California is a quite a complex part of the law and you may find it hard to figure out when the time runs out on a claim. If you are having problems or doubts on how to calculate the time, please contact Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney to guide you through and make sure you get your right to bring a lawsuit. Call us anytime (24/7) at 424-231-2013 for a free legal consultation.

Determinants of the Statute of Limitation

A wrongful death claim is different from criminal proceedings because it does not seek to impose punishments such as imprisonment or probation. What it does is that it allows the surviving family to pursue monetary damages caused by the loss of their loved one. The type of case usually determines the deadline that is set for the claim to be made. This, for instance, involves the cause of death such as traffic accidents, medical malpractice, work-related accidents, bad road conditions or defective auto parts. If the wrongful death was caused by a government agency or individual then the statute of limitation will vary. Another exception involves the age of the heir. If the individual making the claims is a minor under the age of 18, then the time limit is different from the other cases.  

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles, California. When a patient dies from medical malpractice, the surviving family is left with emotional and mental turmoil, loss of the decedent’s love, emotional support, care, as well as significant financial burdens that involve the loss of financial support and other medical and burial expenses. Therefore, any act of professional negligence that is below acceptable standards is perceived as the cause of wrongful death. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to the negligence of a physician, please call us at 424-231-2013 to seek professional help from the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm. Our team will ease the process for you because we will analyze all the medical records, hospital and medical conduct and the autopsy reports. You can trust that we will do everything to develop a concrete and effective medical malpractice claim possible.

Types of Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Claims

Here are some of the acts or omissions that result in lawsuits in California:

  • Anesthesia-related death
  • Birth injuries that may lead to death of mother or child during and after birth (In California, this does not include wrongful death of fetus)
  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosing life-threatening medical conditions
  • Emergency room negligence
  • Failure to diagnose life-threatening ailments
  • Errors in prescribing or administering medication
  • Bacterial infections

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

The statute of limitations is governed by California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5. The time limit for making a claim for wrongful death caused by medical negligence is 1 year from the date of death or from the time that the claimant learns that medical negligence was the cause of death. However, some circumstances may cause the extension of the deadline to no later than 3 years. The extension is given due to fraud or intentional concealment by the defendant. If the medical professional is given a written notice within 90 days of the statute of limitation, then the deadline will be extended by another 90 days.

The statute of limitations in medical negligence cases is full of so much uncertainty and this, therefore, means that a lawsuit should be filed as soon as possible. Do not lose your rights to file a lawsuit against the physician responsible for the wrongful death. Please get in touch with Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney. Our attorneys are standing by to answer your questions and are ready to help you decide how best to proceed.

Government Entity Was at Fault

Wrongful death can be caused by individuals, organizations or associations. A government entity or employee could be responsible for the death of your loved one and it is, therefore, important to understand that there is a great difference in the time limit given to file a lawsuit. When it comes to cases involving the government, whether federal, state or local, time is certainly of the essence. In California, the statute of limitation against a government employee or agency is limited to 6 months or 180 days from the date of the demise of your loved one. This is according to California Government Code Section 911.2.  In order to file the claim, you must use the claim form of that particular government agency. After the case is filed, the government will have a period of time to accept the claim and pay you or reject it. If they reject it, then you can immediately file a lawsuit and in this case, you will also have a limited period of time. Cases involving the government can be very complex and can only push through if you involve someone with a comprehensive knowledge and experience dealing with such cases. Therefore, when making a claim against a government employee or agency, it is important to consult a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney immediately. We will fight for your right to full and just compensation.

Wrongful Death Caused by Auto Accidents

Accidents happen every day in Los Angeles and a good number of them result in wrongful deaths. This, therefore, means that some of the deaths that happen on our roads are as a result of another party’s negligence or misconduct. Examples of careless driving in California include driving at an unsafe speed, using the phone while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or running a red light.  Additionally, the car accident may not be as a result of another driver’s negligence but may be due to bad road conditions or issues with the automotive parts which means that a government agency, car manufacturer or mechanic is held responsible.    

Regardless of the type or cause of the accident that led to the wrongful death of your loved, it is important to contact a compassionate attorney with comprehensive knowledge dealing with car accidents cases. You can contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for assistance. We offer free case evaluation and you will not pay upfront fees until we win the case for you. Call us at anytime (24/7) at 424-231-2013 and give us the chance to fight for your rights.        

Statute of Limitation for Wrongful Death Caused by Auto Accidents

In California, the statute of limitation for filing a wrongful death claim caused by an auto accident is 2 years from the date of death. This statute applies in circumstances where the decedent was killed by a negligent driver, due to someone’s negligent action or omission on the job such as a mechanic, or by using a product with defects. It could also be as a result of a combination of situations that involved the negligence of another party. The statute of limitation, in this case, is governed by California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1. However, if a government employee or car, for instance, a police car, government truck or van led to the wrongful death, the deadline to make a claim will NOT be 2 years. Instead, the six months (180 days) deadline limit will be applicable in this case.

Statute of Limitation for Other Causes of Wrongful Death

Apart from the common causes which include medical malpractice and auto accident, there are other issues that may lead to wrongful death. These include:

  • Unsafe Products - If a pharmaceutical company, for instance, rushes to put an unsafe drug on the market without thorough testing, it could lead to the death of many people. Additional examples of unsafe products include tainted food that was improperly prepared or inadequately inspected or poorly designed and defective machines.
  • Toxic Substances - Wrongful death can be as a result of exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos or chemicals from an industry or nuclear plant. If you suspect that the passing of your loved one was as a result of environmental exposure to harmful substances you should consult a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney with experience in such cases.
  • Suicide - It can be termed as wrongful death if it is caused by another person’s act of negligence. For instance, if a therapist or counselor recognized the warning signs of a potential suicide but chose to ignore it, they can be held responsible for the death. Additionally, emotional distress and suicide could also be as a result of behavior such as ridicule.
  • Work-Related Deaths - If the death of your loved one was caused by a third party at work, for instance, a careless delivery driver, then it can be termed as wrongful death.

For the above cases, the statute of limitation is 2 years from the day of death or from the day that you realize that that was the cause of death except for situations where the government is involved.

Exceptions to the Time Limit for Filing a California Wrongful Death Claim

There are some circumstances that courts in the state of California allow for the filing of a lawsuit even if the statute of limitations has passed. Such are circumstances that would prevent the plaintiff (surviving family member) from knowing that the wrongful death was caused by the negligence of another person or entity or from being in the right condition to file a claim. This is termed as tolling a statute of limitations and it simply means stopping the clock for a certain period of time which would otherwise hinder the plaintiff from recovering damages. The time will, however, start to run again if the circumstances change.

Here are some of the situations that allow for tolling of the statute of limitations:

  • The death caused by the incident did not appear to be a wrongful death until after the time limit for filing the claim had passed
  • Fraud on the part of the liable party to induce the victims not to file a claim
  • Age of the plaintiff- under the California law if the affected family member is a minor at the time of death, the statute of limitation is tolled because a minor does not have the capacity to file a claim. However, the deadline limit will start to count from the date of their 18th birthday.
  • Mental or physical state of the claimant

At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we understand that it is difficult to start thinking of filing claims immediately after the untimely death of your loved one. We will give you sound legal advice on what should be done next. We are dedicated to aggressively pursue justice on your behalf to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Let us take your burden so that you heal and move forward. If you delay filing a claim and seeking justice for the death of your loved one, you risk having the statute of limitation expire. With the complexity of California law on statute of limitations you should contact Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm at immediately for a free consultation and claim evaluation.