What is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death in New York?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when a loved one passes away from an accident or other issue caused by someone else’s negligence.  These cases are often filed against negligent drivers, doctors who commit medical malpractice, negligent product manufacturers, and even dangerous construction sites.  But how long do you have to file these cases?

In New York, the statute of limitations on wrongful death cases is usually 2 years from the death.  However, there are some special circumstances and situations with different filing deadlines.  In any case, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as you can about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

For a free case review, call our Westchester wrongful death lawyers today at The Martello Law Firm.  Our number is (914) 685-6950.

How Long You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York

Generally, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within the statute of limitations under E.P.T. Law § 5-4.1(1).  This law gives a 2-year filing deadline.  The clock begins running from the date of death.

There is an exception built directly into this statute, but it is unlikely to be used anymore today: for a victim killed in 9/11, the deadline to file was 2 years and 6 months instead.  Otherwise, there are still some special circumstances that might use a different filing deadline or allow the family to extend their deadline to file.

Subsection 2 of the same statute provides a separate rule that takes effect whenever the wrongful death is also the result of a crime.  If there is a criminal case being filed against the defendant for the same events that resulting in your loved one’s death, then you could be entitled to a filing extension.  Instead of having 2 years from the date of death, this gives you 1 year from the end of the criminal case to file your wrongful death lawsuit.

More specifically, C.P.L. Law § 1.20(16) defines the end of a criminal case to be any final disposition.  That means the case ends when sentencing happens, when the defendant is acquitted, or when the charges are dismissed.  Even when the criminal case ends without a conviction, you still get 1 year to file a wrongful death lawsuit.  Many wrongful death lawsuits can still succeed where the criminal case failed because the burden of proof is lower in civil lawsuits than in criminal cases.  Talk to our Yonkers wrongful death lawyers about getting your case filed on time if there has already been a criminal case for your loved one’s death.

Deadline for Filing Survival Actions in NY

If a victim were to survive an accident, they could be entitled to file a personal injury case for what happened to them.  When they die from the accident, their normal personal injury case “survives” them and can be filed by their personal representative alongside the wrongful death lawsuit.  These two cases are generally filed together, but they are technically separate claims.

The deadline to file this lawsuit is the same as any other personal injury case: 3 years from the date of the accident.

Since the wrongful death statute of limitations is shorter at 2 years, these cases are often filed with the help of a New York wrongful death lawyer well before that deadline passes.  However, time may pass between the date of the injury and the date your loved one finally succumbed to their injuries.  This gap between injury and death can make these cases filing deadlines hard to match up.  Consider calling our Westchester personal injury lawyers as soon as the injury happens to help exercise your rights and your loved one’s rights to recovery as soon as you can.

Special Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Deaths in NY

Wrongful deaths can be caused in many different ways.  When a doctor’s negligence is what led to your loved one’s death, you may be entitled to sue the doctor for wrongful death based on medical malpractice.  While most injury cases have a 3-year statute of limitations, medical malpractice cases often have special filing deadlines.

In general for medical malpractice cases, victims have 2 years and 6 months from the date of injury to file their medical malpractice claims.  When looking at these rules in the context of a wrongful death case, the rules can get very confusing.  Recall that the statute of limitations on a loved one’s survival action runs from the date of injury, but the wrongful death statute of limitations runs from the date of death.  This gives the victim or family 2.5 years from the date of injury to file a survival action, but only 2 years from the date of death to file the wrongful death lawsuit.

If both claims are being filed, these statutes of limitations might not line up well.  Speak with a Mount Vernon personal injury lawyer for help.

Statute of Limitations for Suing the Government in NY

When you file any injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the government in New York, there is a much earlier deadline to take into account.  Your New York wrongful death lawyers will typically have to file notice with the government of your intent to sue within 90 days of the death.

This applies to any wrongful death cases against any level of government.  This could include lawsuits against the state, the city, another local municipality, a school board, or even government-operated public transit agencies and hospitals.

Call Our New York Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help

If a loved one has died because of an accident or some other event caused by someone else’s negligence, talk to our White Plains personal injury lawyers right away about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.  For a free case review, call The Martello Law Firm at (914) 685-6950.

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