In North Carolina and other states, a statute of limitations may apply in a wrongful death case. Once the statute of limitations expires, an individual is generally unable to pursue legal action in the matter. The time in which a person has to file a suit in a wrongful death case begins when the cause of death is known or should have reasonably been known. In some cases, this may begin before an individual passes away.
It is possible that the statute of limitations could be waived by the court or an opposing party in the case. It may also be tolled in certain scenarios. For example, if a wrongful death occurred when a person was a minor, the statue of limitations doesn’t begin until that person turns 18. There are other special circumstances that could determine if an individual has the ability to bring forth a wrongful death case.
If a wrongful death case stems from a personal injury case that has been time-barred, the wrongful death case may also be rejected. The same is true if the wrongful death case is the result of a defective product. States may have what are known as statutes of repose. What this means it that a manufacturer cannot be liable for damages caused by a product once it reaches a certain age.
Family members of those killed in fatal accidents or for any other reason may be able to pursue a wrongful death case. An attorney may be helpful in reviewing a case and filing a lawsuit prior to a statute of limitations expiring. If a lawsuit is filed, it doesn’t mean that the case can’t be resolved through a settlement. It merely means that a person’s right to sue is preserved until the matter is resolved.