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When a wrongful death lawsuit can or cannot be filed

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2020 | Wrongful Death

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be hard without knowledge of the Kentucky laws that govern this process. First of all, there is the question of what the statute of limitations is. Here, plaintiffs must file suit within one year after the date of the decedent’s death.

In some cases, the plaintiff, through reasonable diligence, may only find out the cause of the decedent’s death after a long delay. If this delay jeopardizes the filing of a wrongful death suit before the end of the statute of limitations, then the plaintiff may invoke the discovery rule. According to this rule, the statute of limitations would begin to run on the date when the cause of death was discovered or should have been discovered under reasonable conditions.

There are times when the discovery rule would not apply. For instance, someone is injured but does not file a personal injury claim within the limitations period. That person then dies, after which the family decides to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Being a derivative action, it would ultimately be rejected. If the statute of limitations runs out, plaintiffs could petition the court for a waiver, or they could toll the statute of limitations: that is, delay it or suspend it. Other times, they could try to have the defendant waive the statute.

In any event, pursuing a wrongful death case is a difficult endeavor, so families may want legal help. With a lawyer, they may be able to achieve a good settlement out of court, one that covers funeral and burial expenses, loss of support and consortium and any pre-death medical bills. Whether the decedent died in a car wreck or from a harmful product, the lawyer may hire investigators to show just how the defendant was negligent.