The Time Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Wrongful Death Attorney

Death of a loved one is never easy for a person to handle. But what makes this tragedy even worse is wrongful death due to someone’s negligence or carelessness. Some events in which others are at fault for a person’s death include drunk driving, medical malpractice, unsafe work environment, and many others. Although financial compensation for a loved one’s death can never be enough, filing a wrongful death is the only way for a family to recover from their loss.

If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death and want to file a lawsuit against the responsible party, it is important that you take action right away, because you have limited time on your hands.


The Statue of Limitations for Wrongful Death

For every type of lawsuit, the legislation of each state has defined its own statutes of limitations. These are laws that put a cap on the period within which a person or their family can file a lawsuit after an injury. For wrongful death cases, the time limit is generally from one to three years after the death of the victim. If the family doesn’t file a lawsuit within this time, they cannot claim the damages.


However, there is a “discovery rule” according to which you can file a claim even when the time limit has expired. This rule resets the clock when new information regarding the death of the victim is discovered, such as:

  • Death was initially ruled from natural causes, but after several years, evidence was found of medical malpractice or any other cause of death.
  • Use of defective products that came to light after several years.
  • Important information pertaining to the victim’s death surfaced which was concealed earlier.

However, defective or dangerous product is excluded from the “discovery rule” in some states. Moreover, the statute of limitations may change depending on the nature of the defendant. For example, in Illinois, if the defendant is a municipality, the time limit is reduced from two years to one year.


Death long after Surviving from an Injury

If a person survives after sustaining an injury, but dies after several years due to its complications, their family cannot file a wrongful death claim. This is because the claim has changed into a personal injury at the time of injury and follows the relative statute of limitations, which spans from one to six years depending on the state. The discovery rule will not apply on the later occurrence of death or change it into a wrongful death claim.

Filing a wrongful death claim is a long and painful process. But our reliable and experienced wrongful death attorney can help you get through this rough patch in life by working with you at every step of the way to get the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your legal options regarding wrongful death claim, contact Fisk & Monteleone LTD. today at 815-209-9030.


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