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Wrongful Death Claims: Discovery Rule

Filing a Claim for Wrongful Death in Los Angeles

No amount of money can reduce your anguish after losing a loved one in an accident. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to recover to help cover medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs. If your loved one died at the hands of an intentional act or negligence, you should retain an accident injury attorney in Los Angeles to assess your case. You should expect your legal counsel to guide you through the process, as this is a sensitive time for you and your family.

The Purpose of Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
In California, like most states, wrongful death claims are filed when a person died due to negligence, medical malpractice, or intentional acts. According to CA’s wrongful death statute, the following persons can file a lawsuit:

  • Surviving spouse or partner
  • Surviving child/children
  • Surviving parents
  • Surviving grandchildren (in rare circumstances)

Those that pursue a personal injury lawsuit primarily file on behalf of the deceased, to obtain financial compensation for damages caused. The court will order the defendant to pay if a death lawyer in LA can prove that the opposing party engaged in negligent or intentional acts. It is important to remember that this is not a civil lawsuit. The defendant will not be prosecuted and charged with jail time, probation, or related consequences.

While mourning your loss, this can seem like a tedious task. It is best to act quickly because your legal counsel needs time to prepare an adequate strategy. If you choose to act on a later date, you risk running out of time per the statute of limitations.

The Discovery Rule: An Extension
Each state has a specific statute of limitation when it comes to taking legal action in a wrongful death case. In California, the statute is two years from the date of a person’s passing. When in doubt, refer to a skilled wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles to determine the validity of your case and if you would be applicable for an extension. There are a few exceptional circumstances that may permit plaintiffs to file for more time.

If you discovered the cause of your loved one’s death at a later date, the “discovery rule” can be applied. With the help of your legal counsel, you are expected to prove that you were unaware of the cause of illness or injury before his/her death. If the court approves the statute of limitations will begin from the moment you established the cause. In California, the right to bring a wrongful death action is important as any accident or personal injury claim.

Special Considerations in Wrongful Death Cases
Unfortunately, the discovery rule can affect a wrongful death action by making the matter more complicated. If your loved one suffered from an injury that directly contributed to their passing, the cause may not be objectively clear. If not, it can take months or years before you have a clear answer. Compared to a fatal car accident case, for example, product liability cases may require more time to determine the cause of death. However, the court has a special limitation for defective products. It starts to run from the date of your loved one’s death, regardless of knowledge or lack of knowledge.

When wrongful death is seen as a by-product of action (from a personal injury), it could become time-barred by a statute of limitations. Failing to file a claim at the time of death and failing to file a personal injury claim within the limitations period will hurt your chances for compensation overall. The statute of limitations is intended to make the process straightforward and clear. However, it is a big responsibility with strict deadlines. Keep in mind that the discovery rule does not apply to all lawsuits.

Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles lawyer for wrongful death claims before requesting an extension. You will need ample time to reach an appropriate settlement. Additionally, California law also has two “statutes of repose” that may apply to certain claims. Like the statute of limitations, it can limit your legal rights if an act is not done by a specified deadline. When it comes to product liability claims, when an item reaches a certain age, the plaintiff can no longer sue a company, third-party suppliers, or engineer for it. Especially if the product has been off the market.

What Happens If You Run Out of Time?
When you run out of time on your statute of limitations, lawyers for wrongful death lawsuits can request to:

  1. Toll the statute of limitations,
  2. Have the limit waived by the court,
  3. Have the limit waved by the defendant’s party.

You might be able to request the court to wave the time limit so that you have a fair chance to file your claim. For the court to approve, your case must meet specific criteria to qualify. Similarly, the opposing party is unlikely to agree with an extension to pursue your case against the defendant. Chances are, you might benefit more from tolling.

Tolling is when the court suspends or delays the statute of limitation for a period before it runs again. For a better idea, the discovery rule can be considered as a form of tolling, as it delays the statute based on the circumstances of your case. Normally, tolling is granted under the following conditions:

  • The defendant is a minor,
  • The defendant lives out of state,
  • The defendant is in prison,
  • The defendant is not of sound mind.

It is set to resume when the court deems necessary. However, cases involving minors will not resume until the child turns 18-years-old.

Retain a Reliable Wrongful Death Lawyer from Grey Law
When you lost a loved one due to negligence, carelessness, or wrongful acts of another person, David Grey is ready to help. While you navigate through this with your family, entrust us to help you start the process. Seeking compensation or negotiating with insurance companies can be stressful, especially while recovering. Our personal injury lawyers are well-versed in several practice areas, including wrongful death, such as:

  • Traffic Accidents
  • Premises Accidents
  • Personal Injuries
  • Product Liability
  • Nursing Home Abuse

Why do you need a lawyer for accident compensation? With thousands of lawyers in California, we understand it can be difficult to choose the right legal representation. We have 35+ years of experience and secured millions for our clients. From the time you retain our firm, we build your case. For a free case evaluation and consultation, reach out to us at (323) 857-9500 or email

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