In any type of civil lawsuit in Atlanta arising out of a personal injury or a deadly accident, a statute of limitations will determine the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. Depending upon the type of lawsuit, the clock on the case will begin to tick at a certain point, and the plaintiff will have a set amount of time to file a claim. Once that clock runs out, if the plaintiff has failed to file a lawsuit, their claim will usually be time-barred.
Wrongful death lawsuits, like other kinds of civil lawsuits, have a statute of limitations that will affect the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. How much time do you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit? Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can provide you with more information.
Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Most Wrongful Death Cases
Under Georgia’s wrongful death law, most cases have a two-year statute of limitations, and the clock will start to tick on the date of the deceased’s death. This is an important point since the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases begins to tick on the date of injury, or on the date of the incident that gives rise to the lawsuit. With a wrongful death claim, the deceased may have suffered a life-threatening injury in an accident, but the death resulted from that initial injury week, months, or even years later. The clock will start to tick on the date of death as opposed to the date of the injury.
There are also some circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be paused, or “tolled,” under Georgia law. In other words, you may be able to put a pause on the clock so that it does not continue ticking, thereby giving you more time to file a claim.
When the Deceased’s Estate Has Not Yet Gone Through Probate
There are many circumstances that can delay the probate process for the deceased’s estate. Probate is the legal process through which a person’s assets are identified, the deceased’s will is authenticated (if there is a will), and the deceased’s assets are transferred to heirs or beneficiaries. Most estates go through probate, including in cases where a person dies with or without a will. When there is a delay in the probate process or probate is taking an extended amount of time, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit can be tolled for up to five years.
When a Criminal Case Has Been Brought Against the Defendant
Many fatal injuries that give rise to wrongful death lawsuits also result in criminal charges against the defendant. For example, a defendant might be facing charges for manslaughter or murder. When the defendant in your wrongful death case (or the person you are planning to name as a defendant) is facing criminal charges related to the same circumstances that will be at issue in your wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations can be tolled while the criminal case is pending, for up to six years.
Contact our Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, one of our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can speak with you today. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or by calling (404) 529-3476 for assistance.