Time Is Ticking: A Checklist for When You Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death situation is one of the most devastating experiences a family or close friends may face. Initially, it’s understandable to focus on more immediate needs such as your own grieving, taking care of the deceased’s finances and estate, and figuring out how to move forward in life without your loved one.
You may realize that a wrongful death situation means you should to seek advice from a qualified attorney. But you may put it off…and put it off…and put it off…until it’s too late. When must you file a claim or lawsuit? How much time do you have? Here is a quick checklist that we hope you will find helpful:
Has it been less than two years since the wrongful death?
If it has been less than two years since the wrongful death, you can typically still file a claim or lawsuit. That’s because Georgia’s statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years. “Statute of limitations” is a fancy name for the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit after the original incident occurred. There are special rules for cases against governmental entities (State, Counties, Cities) that may require proper notice of a claim to be sent as soon as six months after the wrongful death occurred, so it is important to consult with a qualified wrongful death attorney as soon as you and your family are emotionally capable of doing so. There are also some special rules for wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice.
What if your loved one suffered with injuries and pain for some time before dying?
Check with your personal injury attorney. In some instances where a person is injured due to negligence and stays alive for an extended period of time before passing away (such as a few months), the law may consider the two year limitations period to run from the date of the incident that caused the injury rather than the date of death. The personal injury attorney will need to diagnose the issues in your case and obtain your loved one’s medical records to determine the proper course of action.
What about the special rules involving governmental entities?
If the claim is against a city, proper legal notice must be sent to the city within six months in order to have the right to later file a lawsuit against the city. If the claim is against a county or the State of Georgia, this notice must be sent within one year. Different laws apply to each scenario, so it is important to consult with your personal injury attorney regarding what constitutes proper notice and when such notice must be sent.
For most scenarios, the limitations period is two years for wrongful death claims. However, there is no reason to delay moving forward with making a claim. As time passes, witnesses can relocate or disappear. Time is always of the essence in any personal injury matter. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to talk to you about your situation and guide you through the first, most important steps such as filing your claim.
Has your family member or loved one been a victim of wrongful death? Call us today for a free consultation.