The period after a loved one’s death is often a fog. You might be getting through your days on autopilot, trying to work through your grief. Calling an attorney to discuss a lawsuit may not be a priority.
However, when someone else’s criminal, reckless, or negligent act led to your loved one’s death, you might have grounds to sue them for wrongful death. A claim can provide a measure of justice for your loved one and financial security for your family. The process of holding someone accountable could help you come to terms with the death.
You must act quickly, though. The Temple wrongful death statute of limitations restricts the time available to file a lawsuit. Contact a local wrongful death attorney as soon as you can to discuss bringing a suit.
The law requires anyone with a claim against another to bring it within a specified time. These laws are called statutes of limitation. Once the statute of limitations passes, a family in Temple can no longer hold another liable for the wrongful death they caused.
Statutes of limitations might seem unfair, but they serve an important purpose. They reduce the number of claims before the courts, which prevents the court system from being overwhelmed. Limiting the timeframe for a lawsuit also ensures evidence will be available to support a claim.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 requires families to bring a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. However, when those potentially responsible include a local government, the family must notify the appropriate government office of the claim within six months of the incident that caused the death. Consulting an attorney soon after the incident can preserve a family’s rights.
The general statute of limitations is that a family must file a Temple wrongful death claim within two years. However, the law provides some limited exceptions.
Sometimes, it is unclear that another’s conduct contributed to a death. For example, say a person died in a single-car accident in bad weather conditions. Everyone might assume the weather led to the accident, but three years later, the manufacturer issued a recall because of problems with a vehicle’s brakes or steering. The defective component could have played a role in the accident, but the family could not have known that until the recall. The law could allow them to bring a lawsuit up to two years after they had notice of the defective product.
Other exceptions to the statute of limitations might apply in certain circumstances. For example, when the responsible person is out of state for a period of time, the time when they are outside the jurisdiction does not count towards the statute of limitations. A local legal professional can review a specific situation and determine whether an exception might apply.
In some cases, a wrongful death case leads to two actions–a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action. The family could bring a survival action when their deceased loved one lived for a time before they perished from their injuries. A survival action seeks damages the deceased person would have been entitled to receive if they had recovered from the incident that led to their death.
The statute of limitations for a survival action is also two years, just like a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the clock begins ticking on the date of the incident. For example, when someone suffers injuries in a house fire and dies two months later, the statute of limitations for the survival action would start on the date of the fire. In addition, the clock stops running in the time between the person’s death and the date the court appoints someone to manage the estate.
Seeking legal representation soon after a death is the best way of preserving all claims. However, a Temple legal professional can evaluate a case and determine whether an exception to the statute of limitations might apply.
It takes time to process your grief after a death, but the law limits how much time you have before you must file a lawsuit. Although tackling practical matters might be challenging while you are grieving, consulting a local lawyer soon after a loved one’s death is wise.
An attorney can provide sound advice and practical assistance. Reach out to speak with a compassionate lawyer about Temple wrongful death statute of limitation.