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If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you could have the legal right to bring a wrongful death claim in California.

However, like other types of personal injury claims, you have only a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. This deadline is known as the wrongful death statute of limitations in California.

If you have questions on pursuing a claim, let the experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at Farzam Law Firm assist you.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in California?

The statute of limitations for wrongful death in California is two years. With a wrongful death claim, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the date of death.

For example, consider a case where someone lives for two months following a car accident. The statute of limitations would begin from the date of death rather than the initial date of the accident.

You have only two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit in the proper court.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit doesn’t mean your case is automatically going to trial. You can continue with settlement negotiations if you are close to settling with the at-fault party.  

What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is not a suggested guideline. It’s a firm date. If you miss the filing deadline, then the court will likely throw your case entirely out.

That means you will not be entitled to any compensation, even if the other party is at fault. 

When the statute of limitations has passed, the defendant’s insurance company will ask for proof that you filed a claim before the deadline.

If you cannot produce proof, they are under no legal obligation to offer you any money. That applies even if they made a settlement offer before the statute of limitations expired.

If you had not accepted the offer and signed a release of all claims before the statute of limitations ran out, the insurance company could withdraw their offer.

Are There Exceptions to the Two-Year Deadline for Wrongful Death in California?

Yes, while the two-year filing deadline is the standard deadline, limited circumstances might change the date. To be absolutely sure of the deadline in your case, speak to an experienced wrongful death lawyer first.

In cases against a government agency, you must file a claim within six months or 180 days from the death of your family member.

You must follow the rules for that government agency and file the claim following their rules. Another exception involves cases with heirs under 18 years of age.

If the person making a claim is a minor, the statute of limitations will differ.

Medical malpractice cases are more complicated and have a different statute of limitations than other personal injury cases.

In most cases, you have a year from the date of death to file a medical malpractice wrongful death case in California.

In some situations, the deadline will extend to three years. The extension is granted when there’s intentional concealment or fraud on the part of the defendant.

Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you believe you have a valid wrongful death claim, it’s best to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer first, who can advise you on the best course of action.

Missing the statute of limitations means you may not be able to collect any compensation owed to your family. At Farzam Law Firm, we are experienced trial lawyers.

We aren’t afraid to take your case to trial if necessary to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable. To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.

Author Photo

Joseph Farzam

Mr. Farzam attended Santa Monica high school and worked at McDonald’s and local coffee shops to support himself. Although he worked 2 or 3 jobs, he valued education greatly and earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge in biology, and attended the prestigious Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated with high marks and passed the California bar exam on the first try. Mr. Farzam has received the coveted titles of Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top Lawyers, and has received The Litigator Awards.  He is a proud member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA).

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