If someone you love died in an accident or as a result of another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, you may be thinking about the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit. Under New York law, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must be the party who actually files the wrongful death lawsuit, but that personal representative can then seek damages on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members. There are many important things to know before moving forward with a wrongful death claim, including details about the statute of limitations. Our Syracuse wrongful death attorneys can provide you with more information about the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in New York, and we can explain more about the different issues that can ultimately affect your claim.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a clock placed on a lawsuit. In other words, the statute of limitations is what says that there is a maximum amount of time that a party has to file a specific type of lawsuit. There are statutes of limitations for nearly all types of legal cases, including civil lawsuits and criminal cases. Most civil lawsuits, including wrongful death lawsuits, have statutes of limitations set by state law.
New York wrongful death law outlines who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and under what circumstances a lawsuit may be possible. In addition, the law makes clear that there is a statute of limitations for wrongful death claims.
How Long is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Syracuse?
For most types of wrongful death lawsuits in Syracuse, the statute of limitations is two years, according to New York wrongful death law: “such an action must be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death.” To be clear, there is a two-year statute of limitations on most kinds of wrongful death lawsuits, and the statute of limitations will begin ticking on the date of the deceased’s death. This is important to note because in many personal injury lawsuits — which can also give rise to similar claims — the clock on the statute of limitations will start to tick on the date of the accident or injury.
New York law does have some exceptions that you should understand. In addition, there is an important exception in wrongful death cases where a criminal action has been commenced against the same defendant (i.e., the person who will be sued in the wrongful death lawsuit is facing criminal charges in connection with the wrongful death). Under those circumstances, the wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within one year from “the termination of the criminal action” if there is less than one year on the original statute of limitations clock, or if the original statute of limitations has already expired.
What Will Happen If I Miss the Deadline Set By the Statute of Limitations?
If you miss the deadline according to the statute of limitations and no exceptions apply to your case, your claim will become time-barred under New York law.
Contact a Syracuse Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
To ensure that you file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations runs out, you should get in touch with an experienced Syracuse wrongful death attorney who can help. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP to learn more.