Statutes of Limitations and the Discovery Rule
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death, then you probably have many concerns. However, legal action can only be taken for a limited period of time. When this period has elapsed, you will no longer have the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury attorney from Stevenson & Murray in Houston can answer your questions about how much time you have to take action.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. It helps to ensure that the legal process moves forward and that evidence is still available and fresh in the minds of witnesses. When the statute of limitations has run out, there is no longer an entitlement to take legal action on a matter. This gives a serious responsibility to people who may wish to file a lawsuit.
What is the discovery rule?
The discovery rule can affect when the statute of limitations begins to run. In some cases, an injury that caused a wrongful death was not apparent when it first occurred; this is usually due to the nature of the injury itself. The statute of limitations will begin, then, at the time the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
Consider a statute of limitations that is, for instance, two years long. Normally, the clock would start ticking as soon as the injury occurred. However, if the injury is discovered one year after it occurs, then the two-year period begins on that date.
How do the statute of limitations and the discovery rule affect wrongful death actions?
For most wrongful death cases, a state’s wrongful death statute sets out a simple time limit for taking legal action. The matter is more complicated, however, when it comes to injuries that call the discovery rule into play.
Sometimes, when a loved one suffers an injury, the injury may not become known for months or years after it occurs—perhaps not until it causes death.
If an injury directly contributed to a death, the statute of limitations may begin at the time of injury or at the time of reasonable discovery. This could mean that the statute of limitations starts to elapse—and may even run out—before the death. This can occur, for example, in products liability cases involving injuries caused by defective or dangerous products.
Speak to a personal injury attorney
Although the statute of limitations and the discovery rule may appear to complicate the legal process, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are time limits associated with taking legal action. Contact Stevenson & Murray today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney who can tell you when the statute of limitations expires and what your rights are right now.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.