In Connecticut and other states, people only have a certain amount of time to take legal action related to wrongful death. When this time period runs out, the party loses the right to file a lawsuit. This legal rule is known as the statute of limitations. The timer on the statute of limitations begins when the person bringing suit learns about the wrongful death or when a court determines that they should have reasonably learned about the cause of death.
Other factors can also limit the amount of time a decedent can sue for wrongful death. In some jurisdictions, claims involving product liability may be limited starting at the date of death regardless of when the cause of death was discovered. The decedent may even be barred from filing a claim at all if the product has reached a certain age. Limitations also arise in cases where wrongful death claims stem from personal injury cases.
Fortunately, decedents of wrongful death victims do have some options if the statute of limitations has expired. Tolling involves getting a court to suspend or extend the time limit. This can happen automatically when going through the discovery rule or when the decedent is a minor. In addition, the party may be able to get the court to waive the statute or even convince the opposing party to waive it.
Decedents of a victim of a wrongful death may contact a personal injury attorney to see what their legal options are. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, an attorney may be able to find a way around the restriction so that the party responsible for the death can be held accountable for their actions or negligence. In these types of cases, an attorney may not require a fee from their client unless they are able to obtain compensation.