Losing a loved one without warning can be heartbreaking. Losing someone in a tragic incident caused by another person or entity's negligence can be even more painful. Unfortunately, this happens all too often—both in Delaware and across the nation. When it does, the victim's family may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
After the death of a loved one, many families want some time to process their grief quietly. That's understandable. However, waiting too long to take legal action can have serious consequences, including dismissal of the case.
Delaware's statute of limitations law determines how long eligible family members have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to learn more about wrongful death cases and this can't-miss filing deadline.
Delaware Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filing Eligibility
Which family members who are entitled to recover depends on who survives the decedent. Some groups who may be eligible include:
- Children, including adopted children or those born out of wedlock
- Parents, including adoptive parents or those not married when the child was born
- Full or half siblings
The Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Delaware
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action in Delaware is two years, meaning that eligible family members have just two years from the date of the event that caused their loved ones’ death to file a lawsuit. Two years may sound like a long time, but it passes quickly—particularly when a family is grieving, settling the victim's estate, and trying to move on with their lives.
Failing to file the wrongful death lawsuit within the two-year deadline almost always results in the case being dismissed without being heard, leaving the victim's surviving family members with no legal recourse. Even if the family doesn't allow the statute of limitations to expire, waiting to take legal action can still have consequences. Evidence can become tainted or lost, or witnesses could move, forget what they saw, or die.
Available Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Damages in wrongful death cases seek to compensate the victim's surviving family members for financial and emotional losses incurred as a result of their loved one's death. These losses can include:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses.
- Wages and benefits previously provided by the victim.
- Lost spousal or child support.
- Lost parental, marital, or household services.
- Mental and emotional anguish.
In Delaware, financial awards from successful wrongful death lawsuits are divided between the victim's beneficiaries, depending on who survived the decedent.
Common Wrongful Death Causes
Wrongful deaths can have a number of causes. However, some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths include:
- Auto accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Dangerous or defective products
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Criminal violence
- Medical malpractice
Consult an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
If someone you love was killed in a negligence-related accident, by a negligent medical provider, or by a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Though a financial award can never replace your deceased loved one, it can help ensure that your family is taken care of like they would've intended.
The knowledgeable and skilled wrongful death attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you understand your legal rights and explore your options for compensation. Do you have questions about a wrongful death case? Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss your case with someone from our experienced legal team.