How The Date Of Discovery Can Affect Your Wrongful Death Claim


There's a time limit involved when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim. This time limit can vary from state to state. One of the most important aspects of the statute of limitations is the date of discovery.

When Does the Clock Start?

No matter your state's statute of limitations, the clock for it doesn't start until the "date of discovery," or "discovery of harm." These terms indicate the moment harm becomes apparent. For example, if someone has an operation, and that operation leads to death, then the day of that operation is when the clock starts on the statute of limitations.

If the statute of limitations on when you can press a wrongful death claim is two years, then it's two years from the date of discovery. It's not necessarily two years from the date of death. This disparity between dates is known as a delayed discovery.

Delayed discovery - There are many situations where the problem that leads to death isn't apparent for long periods of time, even years. If a factory worker is exposed to a toxic chemical for years, there's a chance it will cause his or her death over time.

If, after years, the worker went to a doctor and found they had a malignant cancer, then that date will mark the date of discovery. It can become a wrongful death claim if the worker eventually dies. But the date of discovery will remain the same.

Since each jurisdiction handles wrongful death claims differently, there are exceptions and limits that can come with establishing the date of discovery. For example, in some jurisdictions, the date of discovery can mean the day the judge deems a person should have known about the harm rather than the day of discovery.

Sometimes There are Multiple Time Limits

Some jurisdictions also place an overall statute of limitations on wrongful death claims that include the date of discovery. Since years can go by between the date of discovery and the harm it causes, many courts place an upper limit on how much time can pass overall.

For instance, a state with a two year statute of limitations may only allow five years total for survivors to bring a lawsuit starting from the date of discovery. This is important to know if you only discover the possibility of a wrongful death months or years later.

There's a lot going on with establishing the date of harm, and it's easy to make the wrong move without a lawyer. If you're a survivor, and would like to press a wrongful death claim, it's important that you speak to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

It can take some time to gather information and to figure out the date of discovery. A lawyer can let you know how much time you have to press your claim.


1 July 2015

Starting the Healing Process

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