Discovery Rule and Statute of Limitations

Posted on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 at 7:27 am    

Generally, a wrongful death happens when someone’s negligence or intentional act takes away the life of another. Such an action results in damages given to the surviving family members. This article will discuss the exception to the statute of limitations in filing a wrongful death claim – discovery rule. A wrongful death is not limited to a specific action. It can occur because of a:

  • vehicle accident,
  • workplace accident,
  • homicide,
  • medical malpractice or
  • any other way where the law holds one party responsible for the death of another

The Discovery Rule

In some instances a plaintiff may not know that a wrongful death has occurred until sometime after the death. Their not knowing of the wrongful death could have been reasonable. For example, the cause of death may not have been known until an autopsy was performed. Or until new information was discovered after the death. In such cases, the statute of limitations often does not begin until the actual misconduct is discovered. Hence the term the ‘discovery rule’.  However, it is necessary that the plaintiff must have used reasonable carefulness and persistence to discover the misconduct. However, where the cause of death was obvious the court will use the general statute of limitations on the case. And the discovery rule will not be able to be applied.

That being said some special cases may occur as with product liability cases. Some states have enacted statutes of repose which forbid bringing forth claims. With regards to product liability cases, the statute applied in the following instances:

  • when the product is a certain age and
  • has been off the market for a certain period of time

For legal advice and representation in respect of a likely wrongful death claim speak to a personal injury lawyer. To know if you have a valid wrongful death claim contact the Vinson Law Office for a free initial consultation.

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