Wrongful death occurs when someone causes the death of another person through negligent or reckless actions. You can sue for wrongful death if a close loved one dies.
As with any type of legal matter, there is a statute of limitations. This is a time limit in which you must file your case.
The statute of limitations
For wrongful death cases in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Legislature, the statute of limitations in most cases is three years. There are, of course, exceptions.
If your loved one survived the initial incident and started a lawsuit for personal injury damages but then died prior to the ruling in that case, you can then begin a wrongful death claim, even if it is past the three-year mark. The court may also allow a delay if you are under the age of 18 when the death occurs and cannot bring the case to court until you turn 18 years old.
There is also a different statute of limitations for medical negligence cases. In those situations, you have four years in which to file your claim.
A court can rule other exceptions in some cases depending on the circumstances of the situation.
The reason for a statute of limitations is to preserve evidence. As time goes on, memories fade and perceptions can change, which can distort any witness testimony. In addition, it helps to ensure that the case is fair to everyone involved.
If the statute of limitations expires in your case, you can no longer make a claim. If you do try, the judge will likely throw it out.