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Statute of limitations affects wrongful death claims

A whirlwind of emotions can strike when an individual experiences the sudden loss of a loved one. Anger, fear, stress and deep sadness can all sink in. And, the effects are long-lasting in many ways. Surviving family members who lose a loved one have to come to terms with not only their new family dynamic, but also the financial realities that are often present in these situations. Medical expenses, lost wages and funeral costs can all take a toll on a family, and they may not know where to turn for assistance.

Those who lose a loved one due to the negligence of another may be able to seek compensation via a wrongful death lawsuit. A successful claim may bring a surviving family much needed money to cover their newfound debts, like funeral costs and medical expenses, as well as past and future lost wages. However, it is important to realize that the law places certain restrictions on wrongful death claims, and those who neglect to heed these restrictions may find themselves disallowed from recovering the compensation to which they are otherwise entitled.

Personal injury and wrongful death claims are subject to time limits, known as statutes of limitation. In other words, those who have the right to file a lawsuit must do so within a certain period of time. Once that time period has passed, no matter how convincing the evidence, the would-be plaintiff will not be allowed to sue the would-be defendant.

Typically, the clock starts ticking when an individual passes away. However, there may be instances when the clock can be stopped or even bypassed. But, as difficult as it may seem, those who lose a loved one due to the negligence of another may want to start thinking about their legal options in a timely manner.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the "Discovery" Rule," accessed on Feb. 15, 2016

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