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The wrongful death discovery rule

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2022 | Wrongful Death

When someone causes another person’s death due to negligence or deliberate actions, the liable individual could face a wrongful death lawsuit. Adherence to the statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death suits is vital. Once the statute of limitations expires, filing a legal claim may be impossible. Also, the discovery rule could play a role.

The discovery rule

The discovery rule refers to when those with standing to bring a lawsuit discovered or should have discovered the decedent’s cause of death. So, surviving family members know a relative died from a heart attack, but they may not learn that nursing home negligence resulted in the decedent’s condition prematurely worsening. The family might not know about the negligence until discovering evidence months later. So, the family might receive additional time on New York’s statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of death.

Challenges to the discovery rule may arise when the defendants claim the plaintiff should have known about the factors related to the cause of death. The plaintiffs would have an opportunity to provide evidence supporting their claims. Sometimes, the presented evidence may prove the plaintiffs’ contentions.

Some situations may involve lies and falsifications made to family members. Parties responsible for the death might attempt to cover up their behavior, resulting in delays in civil actions.

Wrongful death legal concerns

Again, proving negligence serves a central role in any New York wrongful death case. Someone’s direct actions – intentional and unintentional – could cause someone’s death, as is the case in drunk driving collisions. Lack of care, such as not giving an elderly person critical medication, might lead to a lawsuit.

Not all family members have the standing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit forward. So, determining eligibility to file a lawsuit is necessary before taking action.