Is There A Way To Extend The Statute Of Limitations For A Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone dies due to the negligence or actions of another, the last thing that may be on your mind is filing a lawsuit against the perpetrator. However, all states have a statute of limitations in place that set a time limit on how long you have to bring suit against the other party before you lose that right forever. If the statute of limitations has passed in your case, there may be a way to get an extension.
Petition the Court
The statutes of limitations are laws, and judges do not have the authority to make changes to the law. They can only act within the prescriptions provided to them by the law. While the judge cannot change the statute of limitations, he or she can decide when the clock starts in a particular case.
Sometimes a case will be ambiguous enough that the court judge can adjust the start of the clock countdown to give the plaintiff more time to file a suit. This can occur in cases where the person did not immediately die from his or her injuries or the cause of the individual's death was not clear until after the statute of limitations had expired.
In product liability cases, for example, it may not be known that the product caused the person's death until a decade or two later. The court may set the clock on the statute of limitations to begin when the family found out about the cause of death.
Remember, though, the court can only work within the confines of the law. If the law is inflexible, the judge may not be able to do anything about it.
Waiver by Opposing Party
Another option for extending the statute of limitation is to convince the defendant to waive his or her right to use this defense. Since it is in the person's best legal interests to use this defense, you would have to provide the defendant with a very compelling reason why he or she should give it up. As unlikely it would be to get a defendant to waive the statute of limitations defense, it certainly isn't impossible, and the worst thing that could occur if you were to ask is the defendant says no.
Whether you want to petition the court for assistance or negotiate with the defendant, it's essential that you hire a personal injury attorney like those at Leen and Emery to help you with your case.