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The risks of waiting to file a wrongful death claim

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one because of another person’s careless actions brings indescribable heartache. You feel almost frozen by your pain, struggling to do anything. However, seeking legal recourse may provide a path to healing and justice for your loved one. While taking the time to grieve is necessary, delaying a wrongful death claim has significant disadvantages.

You could miss crucial deadlines

Ohio law provides personal representatives of the deceased only two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. This statute of limitations may seem generous, but time can fly by easily. Other pressing family matters such as funeral arrangements, estate administration and caring for children can consume your attention.

Overlooking this deadline, however, could forfeit your right to pursue recovery. Additionally, wrongful death claims involve a significant amount of paperwork and evidence gathering that may delay your claim.

Procrastinating a claim can also place you at a disadvantage when it comes to building your case.

Evidence and memory could fade

A loved one’s passing often brings a surge of urgent matters all vying for your attention, which may push the thought of filing a lawsuit at the back of your mind. However, it may become more challenging to collect evidence for your case as more time passes.

Human memory is not always reliable. Witnesses critical to your case may struggle to recall key details, reducing the credibility of their testimony. Even your own memories could start to blur. Moreover, physical evidence could become lost or degraded.

Quick action is key to preserving compelling evidence.

How the discovery rule may help your case

Ohio’s discovery rule may offer some leeway, allowing the statute of limitations to start only from the moment you discover what truly caused your loved one’s death. Sometimes, the cause is not immediately obvious. If you were unaware or could have reasonably been aware, then your window to file may extend beyond two years.

There are other exceptions that may apply. An attorney has the capacity to review your case and determine if the statute of limitations has passed.

A successful wrongful death claim may compensate your financial losses, loss of companionship and mental anguish. But most importantly, it can hold the party responsible for your loved one’s accident liable.

If you are dealing with such a painful loss, consider speaking to an attorney immediately. Even if some time has elapsed, they can help you understand your legal options and guide you to take swift, decisive actions.