What is the Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

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What is the Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

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Posted By DAM Firm | May 6 2024 | California Laws, Wrongful Death

If you have lost somebody you love due to the negligent actions of another party in California, you may be able to recover compensation and gain closure through a wrongful death claim. Every state sets particular guidelines for civil lawsuits, including claims involving wrongful death. These guidelines typically have deadlines in place for how long individuals have to file lawsuits against the alleged negligent party. In California, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs, but there are several exceptions to this deadline we want to review.

Deadline For California Wrongful Death Claims

The Usual Deadline for Filing Your Wrongful Death Claim

As we mentioned, the general wrongful death statute of limitations in California is two years from the date the incident occurs. This is the same statute of limitations that applies to personal injury claims in the state.

What happens if loved ones or the personal representative of the estate fails to file their lawsuit within this two-year time frame?

Unfortunately, missing the deadline could result in the claim getting dismissed altogether by the court. This means that family members and the estate of the deceased would become unable to recover any compensation.

We strongly encourage any person who believes they have a wrongful death claim to begin the process of filing the claim promptly. If you have any questions about how to do this, your first phone call should be to a wrongful death lawyer with experience handling claims in your area.

Exceptions to the Deadline

There are some situations where the statute of limitations can differ from the two-year time frame mentioned. This includes claims involving minors who lose parents, medical malpractice incidents, and claims against the government.

If a minor has lost a parent, then they are allowed to file the claim within two years from the date they turn 18. For example, if a 16-year-old child loses their parent due to a defective product and they are the only surviving heir, they will not have to file their claim strictly within the typical two-year time frame. They will have until two years after turning 18 to file the claim, potentially up to four years for this particular scenario.

For medical malpractice claims that result in the death of a patient, victims of the family must file a claim within the earliest of the following:

  • One year from the date that it was discovered the death was caused by medical malpractice, or
  • Three years from the date of death

For wrongful death claims against a government entity, the time frame is shorter. Generally, relatives of the deceased or the estate of the deceased must file the claim within six months from the date of death. This includes claims against public schools, incidents involving government property or vehicles, medical malpractice at a publicly run Medical Center, etc.

When Should You Call an Attorney?

If you have lost someone you love because of the negligent or careless actions of another individual, business, or entity in the Orange County area, please reach out to an attorney today. These claims can be very complicated, and you are going through something incredibly stressful. Having an Orange County wrongful death attorney examine the facts of your case and offer a free consultation can help give you peace of mind as you move forward toward gaining closure.

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