When a person files a wrongful death lawsuit, certain elements must be present. One of the elements that must be present is that the lawsuit must be filed within the state’s statute of limitations. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations is three years. There are some interesting points that pertain to the statute of limitations that you must be aware of if you are planning on filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
In most wrongful death cases, the clock for the statute of limitations begins on the day the person dies. That means that you would have three years from that day to file the wrongful death claim. This start date for the statute of limitations would usually apply if you know the cause of death. An example of this would be if your loved one died instantly when he or she was hit by a drunk driver.
There are some instances in which the date of death wouldn’t start the clock. For example, if the cause of death wasn’t known at the time of death. In that case, the statute of limitations might not start until the day when the cause of death is discovered. This is called the discovery rule.
If you don’t take action within the three-year time limit, you might still be able to file your claim. Certain actions, such as tolling the statute of limitations might be possible. Anyone who is considering a wrongful death claim should try to understand the applicable laws to ensure he or she is doing things properly and in a timely manner.
Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the "Discovery" Rule,” accessed Jan. 22, 2016