March 10, 2020
Motorcycle Injury Lawyer
Motorcycle riders are about 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than occupants of cars that crash. While cars surround occupants with steel and protect them with airbags and crumple zones, motorcycle riders are protected only by their gear.
Motorcycle helmets save lives, but they cannot prevent crushed organs and broken necks. Even the best helmet cannot assure that a rider will survive a brain injury caused by a collision with a car or truck moving at highway speeds.
When a motorcycle rider dies because the driver of a car or truck was negligent, the rider’s family or estate can sue for wrongful death. The estate may also be entitled to bring a survival claim if the motorcyclist did not die instantly. A survival claim compensates the estate for the suffering a motorcyclist endured prior to death.
Families and estates do not have an unlimited time to bring a wrongful death claim. The deadline for bringing the claim is established by a state statute of limitations. If that deadline passes without filing a lawsuit, the right to bring the claim may be lost forever.
Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Case After a Motorcycle Accident
A statute of limitations is a law that imposes a deadline for bringing a claim in court. The time during which the claim can be filed is called a limitations period. When the limitations period ends, so does the right to sue.
Each state sets its own limitations period for bringing a wrongful death claim. The limitations period may depend on the nature of the claim. For example, a wrongful death claim based on negligence may have a different limitations period than a claim against someone who intentionally caused a death.
The statute of limitations that applies to personal injury lawsuits based on negligence will often apply to wrongful death cases based on negligence. The same statute of limitations will usually apply to a survival action. Since every state has its own law, however, it is important to get advice from a motorcycle accident lawyer to determine the applicable limitations period.
The limitations period for a wrongful death lawsuit typically ranges from one year to six years, depending on state law. A limitations period of two or three years is fairly typical.
When the death was caused by a careless government employee, however, the family might be required to file a notice of claim. The time limit for filing a notice of claim is often shorter than the time limit set by a statute of limitations. Again, it is important to get advice from a wrongful death lawyer to protect the right to seek compensation.
Extending the Time to File a Wrongful Death Case After a Motorcycle Accident
Under some circumstances, state law tolls the limitations period. The period stops running (or doesn’t start running) while it is tolled. Tolling statutes vary from state to state.
States might toll the limitations period if the person bringing the claim is a minor. If a minor child of the accident victim is entitled to file the lawsuit, the limitations period might not begin until the victim reaches the age of 18. When the estate must bring the claim, the limitations period might be tolled until the estate enters probate.
A few states toll the limitations period when the person responsible for the accident broke the law, if the violation was a cause of the accident. In those states, the limitations period will typically be tolled while a prosecution is pending, or for a fixed period of time.
Determining the limitations period is important. A motorcycle accident lawyer can advise the victim’s family about the deadline for settling or starting a wrongful death lawsuit in the state where the accident occurred.