People who have lost loved ones in Georgia due to the negligence of another should be aware that they have a limited time to file a wrongful death action. The time period in which a plaintiff may file a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. This time period varies depending on the state in which the action is filed. In some jurisdictions, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action may be as short as one year.
States also differ in respect to the commencement of the statute of limitations period. In many jurisdictions, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action begins once the plaintiff discovers, or should have reasonably discovered, that they may have grounds for a wrongful death action. Other states begin the statute of limitations period from the date of death.
In some cases, determining the statute of limitations may not be straightforward. Where a wrongful death action can be deemed as merely originating from a related personal injury action, the time for filing the wrongful death action may be governed by the statute of limitations for bringing the personal injury action. Furthermore, many states have special statutes of limitations for wrongful death actions that arise from a products liability claim.
Given the complexity of determining the statute of limitations in wrongful death actions, it is critical that people seek legal representation as soon as possible after a loved one's death. A skilled personal injury attorney can preserve a plaintiff's right of action. Depending upon the applicable state law, an attorney can determine whether there are grounds to toll the statute of limitations or if the court or opposing party may be willing to waive the statute of limitations.