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Is there a time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2020 | Wrongful Death

In the legal system, the law often sets time limits for filing a case. This is true in the criminal and civil systems, and the time limit is known as the statute of limitations. 

The idea behind the statute of limitations is to allow for cases to come before a court when they are fresh so as to avoid people forgetting details about the case that could impact the court’s decision. It also helps to ensure the fairness of the legal system. 

Wrongful death

When it comes to wrongful death cases, you do have a time limit. FindLaw explains that the state has set the statute of limitations at two years. The time begins upon the death of the person who died due to someone else’s negligence. 


The law does allow, in certain circumstances, for the court to toll the statute of limitations, which means that it pauses it. This might occur if there is a criminal case occurring at the time that is for the same incident. 

For example, if your case involves a car accident, the state may also bring vehicular homicide charges against the person who you want to take to court. In this case, your lawsuit may be on hold until the criminal case is over. The law allows for you to wait to file your case until the criminal case is over as long as it is within six years after the death. 

Another situation where the court may pause your statute of limitations is if the person who died has his or her estate in probate. You can wait until probate is complete, up to five years.