Generally, a wrongful death happens when one person’s negligence or intentional act takes away the life of another which results in damages to the surviving family members. A wrongful death is not limited to a specific action it can occur because of a vehicle accident, workplace accident, homicide, medical malpractice or any other way where the law holds one party responsible for the death of another. This article will discuss the basic time limits in place whereby a plaintiff can file a claim.
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/statute_of_limitations] the statute of limitations is defined as, “any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after injury. The period of time varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim.” Therefore, the plaintiff only has a certain amount of time in which to file a claim that is the statute of limitations. All civil actions have specific statutes of limitations. Each state provides a specific statute of limitations for bringing forth a claim. One article stated, “In many states, the time limit is the same for wrongful death cases as it is for any other type of personal injury claim. In other states the time limit may be different or even shorter for wrongful death cases. The range for states is between two to six years from the date when the cause of action accrued. Most states use a 2-year limit.” In the state of Alaska the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is a period of two years.
It must be noted though that certain circumstances involved in the case may have a direct impact on the statute of limitations. For example, if a victim was a minor or mentally disabled, the statute of limitations may be longer. In certain causes of death, such as medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be shorter. However, in most situations the statute of limitations begins from the date of the misconduct that caused the victim’s death. There may be special circumstances that go outside this general rule such as the ‘discovery rule’.
In some situations a plaintiff may not know that a wrongful death has occurred until sometime after the death and he or she could not have reasonably known about this. For example, the cause of death may not have been known until an autopsy was performed or new information was discovered after the death. And such the statute of limitations often does not begin until the actual misconduct is discovered. Hence the term the ‘discovery rule’. However, it is necessary that the plaintiff must have used reasonable diligence to discover the misconduct. When the cause of death was apparent the court will hold the plaintiff to the general statute of limitations and the discovery rule will not apply.
Some special cases may occur as with product liability cases. Some states have enacted statutes of repose which prohibit bringing forth claims regarding product liability cases when the product is a certain age and has been off the market for a certain period of time. For legal advice and representation speak to an Alaska wrongful death lawyer.
For a free initial consultation contact attorneys in Wasilla AK.
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Crowson Law Group Wasilla
Address: 1981 E. Palmer-Wasilla Hwy
Wasilla, AK 99654
Phone: +1 907-519-0193
Company Name: Crowson Law Group Wasilla
Contact Person: James Crowson
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Address:1981 E. Palmer-Wasilla Hwy Suite 220
Country: United States