Wrongful death laws are designed to compensate the family members of an individual who has died due to another person’s or entity’s actions in a wrongful death accident. These laws allow the family to bring a civil action to court to seek damages for the losses they have suffered due to the individual’s death.
However, there are certain exceptions to wrongful death laws that may limit the ability of a family to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. These exceptions can vary by state, as each state has its own wrongful death laws.
- Contributory negligence
One exception to wrongful death laws is the doctrine of contributory negligence. This doctrine states that if the individual who has died was partially at fault for the accident or injury that led to their death, their family might be barred from recovering damages. This doctrine is used in some states but not all.
- Comparative negligence
Another exception to wrongful death laws is the doctrine of comparative negligence. This doctrine is similar to the doctrine of contributory negligence. Still, instead of barring the family from recovering damages, it reduces the number of damages they can recover by the percentage of fault that the individual who died is found to have in the accident or injury.
- Statute of limitations
A third exception to wrongful death laws is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time a family must file a wrongful death lawsuit after the individual’s death. If the family does not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, they may be barred from recovering damages. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases can vary by state but is typically one to two years.
- Sovereign immunity
A fourth exception to wrongful death laws is the concept of sovereign immunity. This concept states that the government cannot be sued for damages unless it has waived its immunity. In some cases, this can mean that the family of an individual who has died due to the actions of a government employee or entity may be unable to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Financial caps
Finally, some states have caps on the number of damages that a family can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. These caps can limit the number of damages a family can receive, regardless of the actual losses they have suffered.
Notably, these exceptions to wrongful death laws can vary by state and may not apply in all cases. It is advisable for families considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can advise them on the specific laws and exceptions that apply in their state.