You were devastated to hear that your loved one was killed. You were still struggling to pick up the pieces months after it happened. But as time went on, you went from heartbroken to angry—and now you are ready to hold the responsible party liable for taking your family member from you. Is it too late to file a wrongful death claim, and what do you need to know before you do?
Each state has its own time limit (called the statute of limitations) to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the deceased person's death. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that can give families more time to bring a case, such as:
- Discovery. The time limit for bringing a wrongful death case is similar to an injury case in that the clock does not start ticking until a person is aware of the harm. In some cases, a person may be killed due to an error that was discovered after the statute of limitations has run out. If new evidence in your case surfaces after the time limit has passed, you may be able to pursue a case.
- Minors. As children who are under eighteen cannot bring a case to court, there are special rules to lengthen the statutes of limitations. A child can file a wrongful death action for the death of a parent or grandparent until two years after he or she turns 18. Depending on how old the child was when the parent was killed, the wrongful case could proceed nearly 20 years after the death occurred.
- Extensions. Courts are typically very strict about adhering to the statute of limitations. Motions to disregard the time limit are generally not successful. However, a motion to toll the statute of limitations period is much more likely to be granted. Tolling is a way to extend the time limit, and can be granted in specific cases where another entity is to blame for delays (such as records offices looking for lost files, or an employer’s ongoing internal safety investigation). Your attorney will have to examine your case carefully to determine whether your case warrants tolling.
We Can Help Gather the Evidence You Need for Your Claim
If you are still eligible to bring a valid legal claim, you must start building the evidence in your case as soon as possible. The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP can answer all of your legal questions in your free case evaluation—and if you want us to fight for you, you will not pay us anything unless we win your case. Call us today at 800-237-3334 to learn how to get the compensation you deserve.