According to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in Los Angeles is two years. The law does not paint the full picture, however. Numerous factors can affect the statute of limitations and could give you and other surviving relatives more or less time to seek justice for your loved one.
A wrongful death attorney can discuss the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and state laws to help you understand how much time you have to work on your case.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time someone has to take legal action in a case. After this deadline expires, a person risks losing their right to pursue financial awards in their case. Time frames vary based on the claim. For instance, the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a wrongful death lawsuit, a personal injury lawsuit, and a medical malpractice lawsuit might differ in the same state, and time periods for all these legal actions will vary from one state to another. Several other factors may also affect the time available to seek justice.
Other Circumstances Involving California’s Statute of Limitations
As mentioned above, other factors can affect the timeline of a statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim.
For example, if a surviving relative was a minor at the time of the person’s death, the statute of limitations will begin to run when the child reaches the age of majority, according to the CCP §352. Therefore, the survivor will have until age 20 (two years from the person’s 18th birthday) to file a wrongful death claim.
If your relative died due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, family members might be able to file a wrongful death alleging medical malpractice. In that case, the statute of limitations will be three years from the date of your loved one’s injury or one year from the date when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered, whichever comes first, according to the CCP §340.5.
The statute of limitations applying to a medical malpractice claim may be tolled if the case involved fraud, intentional concealment, or the presence of a foreign body serving no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose inside your family member’s body.
If the person bringing the wrongful death claim is a minor, the statute of limitations will be three years from the date of the wrongful act or, if the minor is less than 6 years old, three years from the minor’s eighth birthday, or whichever period is longer.
If a government agency or an employee of the government acted negligently and caused your relative’s death, surviving family members might be able to take legal action against the liable government entity, but a different statute of limitations will apply. You will have only six months from the date of the accrual of action, according to the California Government Code (GOV) §911.2. An attorney could advise you further in this area.
The statute of limitations may also be extended under other circumstances. For instance, if your family member was injured in a car accident but spent weeks or months in the hospital before passing away, the “clock” on the statute of limitations will state on the date of your loved one’s death.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm helps families in California and across the United States seek justice following a loved one’s sudden death. If your family member died because of someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to a financial award to compensate you for your relative’s medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and lost income, as well as for the emotional pain and suffering that you and other relatives have endured.
We might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death. While we can negotiate a settlement and avoid a long and costly trial, we realize this is not always the outcome. We can take your case to court if we believe it is necessary to secure a financial award that will fairly compensate grieving family members.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we understand that families devastated by the unexpected loss of a loved one are often struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to pay an attorney out-of-pocket.
That is why our firm operates on contingency. We do not charge clients seeking assistance with wrongful death cases any money upfront. We cover litigation-related costs ourselves and only get paid if we obtain a financial award for a client.
Statutes of limitations for wrongful death cases can be confusing because so many factors can come into play. If you do not meet the deadline, you might lose your opportunity to seek compensation for your losses.
Call our office today at (800) 223-5115 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our staff. You can ask questions about the statute of limitations that applies to your case and other factors that may affect your ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit.