In wrongful death cases, the legal complexities can seem overwhelming. Hartwig Law, LLC is dedicated to helping clients navigate the Pennsylvania wrongful death legal process. In this blog post, we will discuss the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania and provide useful tips for understanding this critical aspect of the legal process.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit. In wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations determines how long the deceased's family has to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time frame, the family may lose their right to pursue legal action.
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the deceased's death. This means that the family has two years from the date their loved one passed away to file a wrongful death claim. It is important to note that this time limit applies regardless of whether the family is aware of the wrongful death claim or not.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania wrongful death cases. These exceptions may extend the time limit for filing a lawsuit in certain circumstances. Some of the most common exceptions include:
- Minor children: If the deceased's family includes minor children, the statute of limitations may be extended until the youngest child turns 18 years old. This extension allows the children to have a say in the legal process once they reach adulthood.
- Discovery rule: In some cases, the family may not be aware of the wrongful death claim within the two-year time frame. If the family can prove that they could not have reasonably discovered the wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations may be extended to allow them to file a lawsuit.
- Fraudulent concealment: If the responsible party intentionally concealed information about the wrongful death, the statute of limitations may be extended. This extension allows the family to pursue legal action once the concealment is discovered.
It is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine if any of these exceptions apply to your case.
Why It's Important to Act Quickly
Even though the statute of limitations for Pennsylvania wrongful death cases is two years, it is crucial to act quickly after the death of a loved one. There are several reasons for this:
- Evidence preservation: As time passes, evidence in a wrongful death case may be lost or destroyed. Acting quickly ensures that evidence can be preserved and used in your case.
- Witness memories: Over time, witnesses may forget important details about the wrongful death. Contacting witnesses and obtaining their statements early in the process can help strengthen your case.
- Financial strain: Wrongful death cases often involve significant financial strain for the deceased's family. Pursuing a wrongful death claim quickly can help alleviate this strain and provide compensation for the family's losses.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, it is essential to seek the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney. At Hartwig Law, LLC, we understand the complexities of Pennsylvania wrongful death cases and are committed to helping our clients navigate the legal process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family during this difficult time.