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Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

How Long Do You Have to Sue for a Wrongful Death? Insight From the Best Wrongful Death Lawyers

Statute of limitations requires an individual to file a lawsuit within a specific time period, depending on their circumstances. If the case is filed after the deadline, then it will be dismissed. In California, the wrongful death statute of limitations is generally two years from the initial date of the deceased victim’s passing.

However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations. This is classified as a “discovery rule.” If the cause of a deceased victim’s death was not obvious when they died and was later found out, this could extend the time period for the victim’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit from the day the negligent act was discovered.

The Discovery Rule

There are different circumstances that come into play when determining how long it can take for an individual to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If an incident involving a public entity occurs--for instance if there is a faulty pavement that results in the death of an individual--the deceased victim’s family is given 6 months to file a claim. Overall, in any case, where the government or employee was at fault for wrongful death, you are given 6 months to sue them. The case will be dismissed if the family exceeds the given time period. 

When it comes to minors, they are given special rules. If a minor is suing for the death of their parent(s), they do not have a specific deadline until they are 18 years old. Once they turn 18, then they are given 2 years to file a lawsuit. Medical malpractice also has special guidelines. Family members may be given one year starting from the initial date of the discovery of the negligent actions that caused an injury or death. They may also be given three years from the date of injury. 

It is highly suggested to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to give you legal advice on your situation. After a wrongful death occurs, you should immediately start filing a claim against the individual at fault for your loved one’s death. A wrongful death attorney will give you guidance on what appropriate steps are needed to give you a higher chance of potentially winning your case. 

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award is known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact, were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations For Damages In California 

For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here To Help

If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death due to another individual’s negligent behavior, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled wrongful death attorneys that will be determined in making sure that you have a satisfactory end result with your settlement and get the justice you deserve. We will help you recover financial and emotional compensation, such as medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, property damage, and pain and suffering. There are no financial risks involved when using our services. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. No fees are paid until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected]  


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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