How Long Does A Family Member Have To Bring A Wrongful Death Claim?

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on September 16, 2011

in Buffalo Wrongful Death Issues

Nearly all matters handled by Buffalo personal injury attorneys are limited by a statute of limitations that bars a claim being brought after a certain amount of time has passed.  The statute of limitations is not the same for all types of claims and may vary depending upon the circumstances of the case.  Moreover, each state has its own rules regarding the statute of limitations and, as a result, an action that could be commenced in one state several years after an injury or death may be time-barred in another state.

The statute of limitations for most claims involving wrongful death is set forth in section 5-4.1 of the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law.  This law requires that in most cases, a claim for wrongful death be filed within two years of the decedent’s passing.  This is shorter than the typical three year statute of limitations for personal injury cases in New York State.

While there are exceptions to this two year rule, the one most likely to apply in most wrongful death cases is set forth in the same statute.  If a criminal action has been commenced against the individual who caused the wrongful death, a civil claim for wrongful death does not have to be filed with a court until one year after the criminal action has terminated, even if this extends the timeframe for filing beyond two years.  The purpose of this law is to ensure that the pursuit of the civil action does not interfere with the criminal case.

If a member of your family has suffered a wrongful death and you have any questions, please feel free to call us 716-542-5444.  We would be happy to help you.

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