Before we can answer the question in the title, we have to tell you what California’s statute of limitations refers to. It refers to a certain number of months or years before which one must bring a case into court. If the victim’s family member failed to file the case by this time, bringing it to court is not possible.
Two years is the statute in California, which is applicable for cases against the common public, but there is a notable exception to this rule. That exception is called the “discovery rule”. Now, what is wrongful death discovery rule? This question is kind of self-explanatory. In the case in which the reason for one’s wrongful demise was unclear when he or she died, and it is ascertained afterwards, a different time limit will apply. In that case, you have 24 months from the day on which the reason is ascertained to file the case. In other words, the actual day of death will not be counted in that regard.
There are other such exceptions, which can extend this time much to the relief of the concerned family member. For instance, in the event a minor is suing for his or her parent’s death, he or she has up to 24 months from the date he or she turns 18 years old. Under California’s law, a “minor” is anyone aged below 18 years.
Another exception applies when medical negligence caused the death of that person. If so, special rules are there no matter whether it is personal injury or wrongful death. In such a case, you usually have just 12 months from the death day, and even in this regard, there are exceptions to the exception.
It can be daunting for commoners to sort through laws in each state to discover the right deadline for filing the case. To confuse matters more, the deadline for this kind of death case can differ depending upon the underlying reason for the demise. It is always best to discuss this matter with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to confirm the number of months you have to do it.
The key matter to note here is when the death happened. Remember, it can be the same as the day of the accident, or the person can remain in comatose for some months and then die. In the latter situation, you have another 24 months to file this case against the at-fault medical parties.