A tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle crash can cause devastating injuries or even death. In the case of fatal accidents, surviving family members may have the right to file a claim for wrongful death. The time in which to file these claims is limited by something called the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is simply a deadline by which a case must be filed. Failure to follow the statute of limitations generally leads to a harsh result of the loss of your claim.
While the statute of limitations may seem a long way off in your case, time passes quickly, especially when you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one. You may spend many months or even years recovering from the loss and put your legal claim on the back burner. Waiting too long can put you close to the deadline and can jeopardize your rights. If you have lost a loved one in a truck crash, you should contact a national truck accident lawyer to discuss your rights as soon as possible.
The statute of limitations begins to run upon the accrual of the claim. In cases of wrongful death, this means that the statute starts on the day of the decedent’s death. From that date forward, the clock begins to tick on family members who wish to file suit following a fatal truck crash.
The limitations period is not constant across the country. Each state has its own time frame in which claims must be filed. Below is a list of the statute across each of the 50 states.
From this list, we see that the majority of states have a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, with the shortest state statutes giving victims just one year to file suit, and the longest statutes providing up to six years. Even though some states have a longer limitation period, it is still important to file your claim as soon as possible while the case and the evidence are fresh. Waiting too long can lead to the loss of memory of the events surrounding the crash and witnesses also tend to disappear over time.
In wrongful death cases, questions sometimes arise about whether the statute of limitations can be tolled. Pur simply, in legal terms, “tolling” means extended. In other words, is it ever possible to extend the statute of limitations past the legal time period?
When it comes to many cases, the answer is no. Statutes of limitations are “drop dead” deadlines meaning that they cannot usually be extended. There are a few exceptions. One exception could be if the deceased next of kin were a minor at the time of the crash. This can happen when parents die in a crash. A minor is not legally allowed to file a lawsuit. So, it may be possible to get the court to extend the statute of limitations until the minor has reached the age of majority. Still, it is best to speak with an attorney about your legal rights before making any decisions about your claim.
The only way to stop the statute of limitations from running is to file your claims. Plaintiffs who file within the allotted time period are typically safe from having their claims dismissed due to failure to meet the statute of limitations. Like any other rule, however, there are exceptions.
Suppose that a case was filed right before the statute runs out. Later it was discovered that the plaintiff failed to join a necessary party to the action. Some courts, at this point, will not allow the plaintiff to amend their lawsuit in order to go behind the statute of limitations. In this case, the plaintiff is simply out of luck and will not be able to pursue a claim against the particular defendant.
It is important to make sure that your claim is filed correctly the first time. Making a mistake can be very costly and can lead to the loss of your rights. The only way to ensure that all legal formalities are properly followed is to seek the services of a national truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the collision.
Here at Burg Simpson, we dedicate our practice to helping catastrophic accident victims. We know that a serious truck crash can take everything from you in a matter of seconds. Our trusted and tested legal team can help you put the pieces back together following a tragic accident. We fight for the rights of family members when they have suffered a sudden loss.
Our truck crash lawyers have recovered more than $2 billion dollars in compensation for injured victims and loved ones. Regardless of where your crash occurred, we can help. Our firm is experienced across multiple states, and we are intimately familiar with the laws that apply to your situation.
We are here to take your call at any time. There is no financial obligation until we obtain a recovery. For your free appointment with one of our lawyers, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-2112.