Understanding Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations
Civil law defines wrongful death as a preventable death caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another person or party. The deceased’s descendants can file a wrongful death claim against liable parties to pursue compensation for damages related to the death. In New York, the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.
Statutes of limitations dictate the length of time a person has to file a wrongful death claim. The attorneys at Zucker & Regev, P.C., in Brooklyn, NY, help surviving loved ones understand wrongful death statutes of limitations and how they affect their ability to file a claim.
Who Sets Statutes of Limitations?
Each state sets its laws regarding filing lawsuits. State laws dictate all areas of civil law, including the grounds for filing a lawsuit, who can file a claim, and the amount of time the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit (the statute of limitations). Statutes of limitations not only vary by state but also by the type of lawsuit.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
In New York, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years. The two-year statute of limitations applies to cases where the defendant is a private entity. In wrongful death cases where the defendant is a public entity (a town, city, county, etc.), the statute of limitations is much shorter. Plaintiffs must notify public entities of the intent to file a wrongful death claim within 90 days of the appointment of a personal representative.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim begins on the day of the deceased’s death. If an accident causes injuries that are eventually fatal, the statute of limitations begins on the day of the death and not the day of the accident.
Are There Any Exceptions to Wrongful Death Statutes of Limitations?
In most cases, individuals who fail to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations runs out forfeit their ability to do so. However, loved ones in the Brooklyn area may be able to extend the wrongful death statute of limitations under one of these few exceptions:
- The claim involves medical malpractice - If medical malpractice causes a wrongful death, the plaintiff can file a claim according to New York’s medical malpractice statute of limitations, which is two years and six months.
- There is a pending criminal case - If the defendant in a wrongful death claim is the subject of a criminal case, the statute of limitations extends to one year from the case’s conclusion.
- The beneficiary is a minor - If the sole beneficiary in a wrongful death claim is a minor, then the statute of limitations extends until they turn 18 or until they are appointed a legal guardian.
If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death and have questions about filing a wrongful death claim, the attorneys at Zucker & Regev, P.C. would be happy to provide answers. To schedule a legal consultation at our Brooklyn law firm, send us a message or call (718) 624-1211 at your earliest convenience.