New York Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The New York wrongful death statute of limitations imposes time limits on civil lawsuits for wrongful acts or omissions that lead to death. If a case is not filed in a timely manner, the family permanently loses the right to pursue damages.

If you have tragically lost a family member because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your loss. However, if you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, your case will be dismissed, and you will never be able to recover the compensation you and your family deserve.

Determining how the wrongful death statute of limitations applies to your case is not always straightforward. An experienced New York wrongful death lawyer at Meirowitz & Wasserberg can calculate the statute of limitations for your case and ensure your case is filed on time.

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What is the New York wrongful death statute of limitations?

The New York statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the death. However, exceptions exist.

Wrongful Death from Medical Malpractice

New York Civil Practice Law and Rule is not clear regarding the specific time frame for filing a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from medical malpractice.

Discuss the details of your case with a New York wrongful death attorney from Meirowitz & Wasserberg to be sure you file before the statute of limitations expires.

Wrongful Death in Product Liability Cases

The wrongful death statute of limitations in product liability cases is generally three years from the date of death. This includes wrongful death stemming from the following:

  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Product defects
  • Dangerous product designs
  • Failure of a manufacturer to warn

In certain instances, a product liability claim may be classified as a breach of warranty. In these cases, the statute of limitations is six years from the date the product was purchased.

Wrongful Death and Criminal Prosecution

If the conduct leading to death results in a criminal prosecution, the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit is one year from the date the prosecution is terminated. A criminal prosecution is terminated when the defendant is sentenced or acquitted, or when the case is dismissed.

When does the statute of limitations stop accruing?

The clock on the civil statute of limitations for wrongful death in New York stops running when the lawsuit is filed. The clock may be paused if the defendant moves to another state or becomes incapacitated.

How does the New York statute of limitations apply to survival actions?

A survival action is a claim filed on behalf of the decedent, whether the decedent initiated the claim prior to death or was entitled to initiate a claim.

If the decedent filed a claim prior to death before the statute of limitations expired, a survival claim must be filed within six months of the death. If the decedent had yet to file the claim and the statute of limitations had not expired before the death, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of death.

Wrongful Death Claims Against a Government Entity

If the negligent party is a government entity, a Notice of Claim must be submitted within 90 days of the appointment of the administrator of the estate. A wrongful death lawsuit against the government entity can be filed after 30 days have elapsed since the filing of the Notice of Claim but no later than two years after the death.

New York Wrongful Death Law Reform: The Grieving Families Act

The New York wrongful death law was written in 1847, according to The New York Times, and most lawmakers agree that reform is needed. The current law does not allow New Yorkers to pursue damages for non-economic losses stemming from wrongful death, such as grief and loss of companionship. 

Families can currently only claim pecuniary losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages. This creates inequities when non-earning or low-earning individuals pass away, such as children, women, seniors, and people of color. 

In 2022, the state legislature passed Senate Bill S74A, more commonly known as “The Grieving Families Act,” which would have given New Yorkers the right to sue for non-economic losses while also extending the statute of limitations by an additional one-and-a-half years.

Governor Hochul vetoed the bill in late January 2023. The governor expressed support for the legislation but stated that it needed to address the impact it would have on small businesses, individuals being sued, and the health care system. The bill’s sponsor believes a new version of the bill will be introduced soon.

What are my options if I miss the statute of limitations?

Missing the statute of limitations is a death knell for a civil lawsuit. If you miss this important deadline, there are generally no options to pursue compensation. This would be a devastating blow for a grieving family. This is why it is crucial to contact an experienced New York personal injury lawyer with experience handling wrongful death cases as soon as possible after the death of your loved one.

Contact Sam ’n Dan to Start Your Case

Sam ’n Dan have a proven track record of successfully taking on large corporations on behalf of grieving families. We handle every case with compassion and expediency. If your loved one has passed away as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve justice. 

Don’t let the statute of limitations pass you by. Contact Sam ‘n Dan today for a free, no-obligation consultation.