How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?

Consulting with an attorney at Apicella & Schlesinger Attorneys at Law who understands the intricacies of New York’s wrongful death laws can help protect your rights while you focus on healing.

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy, especially when the loss is sudden and due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. In such cases, the legal term “wrongful death” comes into play, and families are often left wondering about their rights to seek justice and compensation. One critical aspect of navigating this difficult time is understanding the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in New York.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal term that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit after an incident has occurred. In New York, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of the deceased’s death. This is a crucial aspect to understand, as failing to file a claim within this period may permanently bar you from pursuing compensation in court.

Why the Two-Year Limit?

The rationale behind the two-year limit is to ensure that legal actions are brought when evidence is fresh and available. Over time, witnesses’ memories may fade, and records can be lost or destroyed, complicating legal proceedings. By setting a deadline, the law aims to provide a reasonable timeframe for grieving families to consider their legal options and take action if they choose to seek compensation.

Possible Exceptions to the Rule

While the two-year statute of limitations applies in most wrongful death cases in New York, some exceptions can alter this timeline:

  • Discovery Rule: In some cases, the cause of death may not be immediately apparent. If the cause of death linked to negligence is discovered later, the time to file may be extended. However, this is complex and specific to the circumstances surrounding each case.
  • Governmental Entities: If your wrongful death claim is against a city, county, or other governmental entity in New York, there are additional procedural steps, including filing a notice of claim within 90 days of the death before you can sue.
  • Minors: If the person entitled to sue on behalf of the deceased is a minor at the time of death, the limitations period may be extended until the minor reaches the age of majority.

Steps to Take

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim:

  1. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled wrongful death attorney can provide crucial guidance and help you navigate these legal waters.
  2. Gather evidence. Collect any documents, witness statements, and other evidence related to the incident.
  3. Keep track of deadlines. Be mindful of the two-year limit and any circumstances that might affect this timeline.

New York Wrongful Death Attorneys

The period following the wrongful death of a loved one is emotionally challenging and filled with many decisions, including whether to pursue legal action. Understanding the statute of limitations is crucial to making informed decisions during this difficult time. Remember, legal tools are there to help you find justice, but they need to be activated timely. Consulting with a professional who understands the intricacies of New York’s wrongful death laws can help ensure that your rights are protected while you focus on healing.

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