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Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

January 31, 2024

By Thomas McCutcheon

Losing a loved one is never easy, but when their death is the result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person, the pain and devastation can be even more significant.

Wrongful death claims arise in situations where the misconduct or negligence of another party causes a person’s death. These claims can involve a wide range of accidents and incidents, from car accidents to medical malpractice to intentional acts of violence.

Importantly, every state has a statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death claims that limit the amount of time that you have to file a claim. As a result, if you believe you have a claim, you should speak to a wrongful death lawyer in Florence as soon as you can.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim arises when a person’s death is the result of some other party’s intentional act or negligence.

These claims can arise from:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice 
  • Workplace accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Accidents involving toxic exposure
  • Incidents involving inadequate security

The key factor in determining if a wrongful death claim is viable is whether someone else’s wrongdoing caused the death.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death laws vary from state to state

The laws regarding wrongful death claims can vary from state to state. Each state has its own statute of limitations, which is the time limit within which a wrongful death claim must be filed.

For example, under Alabama law, survivors have two years to file a claim. On the other hand, in neighboring Tennessee, survivors only have one year.

Additionally, the laws surrounding who can file a wrongful death claim and what damages they can seek can also differ. Because of these variations, you must consult with a wrongful death lawyer near you to understand your rights and options.

Consulting with a wrongful death lawyer is essential because they have the experience and knowledge to navigate the legal complexities involved in these claims. They can evaluate the specific circumstances of your case, determine if you have a viable claim, and guide you through the legal process.

A skilled attorney can let you focus on healing and finding closure while they handle the legal aspects of your claim.

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions is a devastating experience.

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, consult a wrongful death lawyer near you. They can provide the guidance and support you need to seek justice for your loved one and hold the responsible parties accountable. Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.

Importance of filing within the statute of limitations

When it comes to wrongful death claims, timing is crucial. The statute of limitations dictates the timeframe you have to file a claim. If you do not file within this designated period, you may lose your right to seek compensation altogether. Act promptly and consult a lawyer who focuses on wrongful death cases and knows the relevant laws.

You Should Not Wait to File

Filling within the statute of limitations is not the only reason to take immediate action. Waiting to file a claim can also result in the loss or destruction of crucial evidence. Over time, witness memories fade, physical evidence deteriorates, and vital documents may become harder to obtain.

Wrongful Death Claim

By filing your claim as soon as possible, you increase the chances of preserving key evidence and strengthening your case.

By partnering with an experienced attorney, you can navigate the complex legal process and ensure your claim is filed within the statute of limitations. They will guide you through each step, gather necessary evidence, and build a solid case on your behalf.

Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t delay in seeking the legal support you need to pursue justice for your loved one.

Exceptions to the statute of limitations

When it comes to wrongful death claims, there are certain situations where exceptions to the statute of limitations may apply. These exceptions can provide some relief for individuals who may have otherwise missed the deadline to file a lawsuit. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these exceptions.

The Discovery Rule

One exception is known as the discovery rule. This rule applies in cases where the cause of death was not immediately apparent or can not have been reasonably discovered at the time of death.

For example, in cases involving medical malpractice, it may take some time for the true cause of death to come to light. In such cases, the statute of limitations may begin to run from the date the cause of death was discovered rather than the date of death itself.


Another exception may exist for wrongful death cases involving murder. In instances where a death is the result of intentional harm, some states may toll the statute of limitations until law enforcement determines who was responsible.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Additionally, some states may toll the statute of limitations in cases where the parties are pursuing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes, such as mediation or arbitration. Tolling refers to suspending or stopping the usual period in which you can file a lawsuit.

Discuss the Applicable Statute of Limitations with a Lawyer Near You

These exceptions can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of your case. An experienced attorney will explain your options and navigate the legal complexities surrounding wrongful death claims. They can guide you through the process, protect your rights, and seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

Risks of delaying filing a wrongful death claim

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act is an incredibly difficult and traumatic experience.

After such a tragedy, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take next. However, when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, time is of the essence. Delaying the filing of your claim can have significant drawbacks and risks that you need to know.

One of the most critical factors to consider when deciding to delay filing a wrongful death claim is the statute of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitations, which is the timeframe within which you must file a claim.

If you miss the deadline set by the statute of limitations, the law may bar you from pursuing your claim altogether.

Because the exact time limits vary from state to state, you should consult with a local attorney to understand the specific deadlines in your jurisdiction. Failure to file within the designated time frame can result in losing your right to seek compensation for the loss and damages suffered.

You Can Lose Critical Evidence

Apart from the statute of limitations, delaying the filing of a wrongful death claim can also lead to a loss of crucial evidence. Over time, evidence can become lost, corrupted, or destroyed, making it increasingly difficult to build a strong case. 

Witnesses may forget important details or become unavailable due to various reasons. By delaying the filing, you risk losing valuable evidence that could have strengthened your claim.

Wrongful Death Victim

It Can Delay Mental And Emotional Healing

Furthermore, delaying the pursuit of justice can prolong the healing process and impede your ability to move forward. Grieving and coping with the loss of a loved one is already challenging enough.

By waiting to file a wrongful death claim, you prolong the resolution of the legal and financial matters tied to the loss, which can prolong the healing process and delay closure for yourself and your family.

When Should You Call a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you believe that the negligence or intentional act of another person caused the death of your family member, you should talk to a wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can.

Some of the specific ways a wrongful death lawyer can help you include:

  • Determining Whether You Have a Valid Claim – Wrongful death cases can be complex, and it’s not always easy to determine if you have a valid claim. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, examine the evidence, and assess the legal elements required to establish a claim.
  • Preserving Evidence – Time can be a critical factor in preserving evidence in a wrongful death claim. Witnesses may forget details or become difficult to locate, and physical evidence can be lost or destroyed. A wrongful death lawyer will collect evidence promptly, preserving crucial information that can strengthen your case.
  • Avoiding Pressure to Accept an Inadequate Settlement – Insurance companies and opposing parties may try to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement that may not fully compensate you for your loss. A wrongful death lawyer can protect your rights and fight for the fair and just compensation you deserve. They have the negotiation skills and experience to evaluate settlement offers and ensure the insurance company does not take advantage of you during this challenging time.

What to Look for in a Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is a tragic and devastating experience. In such difficult times, you need a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney to navigate the legal process. When seeking a wrongful death lawyer, there are a few key qualities you should look for.


Experience is paramount in handling wrongful death claims. A lawyer with years of experience in this specific field will have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding wrongful death cases. They will know the intricacies of the legal system and have the experience to build a strong case on your behalf.

Look for a lawyer who has a track record of success in handling similar cases, as this indicates their ability to deliver favorable outcomes.

Communication Style

Another important quality to consider is good communication. Losing a loved one is an emotional and overwhelming experience, and you need a lawyer who will provide clear and timely communication throughout the process.

A good lawyer will keep you informed about the progress of your case, explain legal concepts in a way you can understand, and be responsive to your questions and concerns. Effective communication is key to building trust and ensuring your voice is heard throughout the legal proceedings.

A Track Record of Favorable Results

Previous outcomes are also a crucial factor to consider when choosing a wrongful death lawyer. Look for a lawyer who has successfully secured substantial settlements or verdicts for their clients in wrongful death cases. This demonstrates their ability to fight for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Research their reputation and read client testimonials to get a sense of their past results and the satisfaction of their clients.

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Near You Today

Rear End Car Accident Attorneys
Thomas W. McCutcheon Jr. | Joel R. Hamner, Florence Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have lost a loved one in an accident or because of a violent act, speak to an attorney near you as soon as you can. A lawyer will file any claim within the statute of limitations in your state and protect your rights throughout the process.

Further, seeking legal representation earlier can help your lawyer build a stronger case in many situations. Evidence can fade with time, and even if the statute of limitations deadline seems far away, delaying the process might jeopardize your case or make it more challenging.

Never risk the financial support and justice your family deserves for your tragic loss. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation with a trusted wrongful death attorney. Doing so only has benefits and no drawbacks.

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