Even if you have extensive evidence showing that someone else’s reckless or careless conduct directly led to your family member’s premature death, you do not have an unlimited period of time to file suit against that negligent person and demand civil compensation. On top of that, special deadlines may apply to certain types of wrongful death cases, particularly those stemming from negligence by a medical professional.

Failing to abide by the Bellevue wrongful death statute of limitations will almost always result in you permanently losing the right to recover financially for losses stemming from your family member’s death. Retaining a wrongful death attorney such as Chong Ye and his team at The Ye Law Firm as early as possible after a fatal accident can be vital to preserving your rights.

Time Limits Applicable to Wrongful Death Claims

The statute of limitations for most types of personal injury claims in Washington, including those based on wrongful deaths, is codified in Revised Code of Washington §4.16.080. According to subsection (2) of this statute, a person who wants to pursue civil litigation based on “any injury to the person” born of negligence has a maximum of three years after accruing their “cause of action” to begin the filing process.

Importantly, the date on which a “cause of action” accrues for a wrongful death claim is not the date of the accident leading to the fatality or the date when the decedent first discovered their injuries, as is the case for typical personal injury claims. Instead, a cause of action for wrongful death begins on the date of the decedent’s death.

While this interpretation of the law allows slightly more time to start the litigation process, building a comprehensive and compelling wrongful death claim in Bellevue within the statute of limitations is far from a simple task. Various forms of documentary, testimonial, and forensic evidence may be necessary to establish that another person’s irresponsible actions were the direct cause of another person’s death. Collecting all of the necessary evidence—let alone effectively presenting it—can be prohibitively challenging without support from a knowledgeable attorney like Chong Ye.

Are There Exceptions to the Standard Statute of Limitations?

For personal injury claims, there are some special circumstances where the normal statute of limitations does not apply. For example, a minor who suffers a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence may have the start date for their statutory filing period “tolled” until they turn 18.

However, for wrongful death claims in Bellevue and throughout Washington, the statute of limitations remains the same regardless of when the negligent act which led to the death in question occurred. Additionally, there are some circumstances where wrongful death litigation may not be possible because too much time has passed since the initial negligent act—for instance, the “statute of repose” for medical malpractice claims is eight years after negligent treatment occurred, with only limited exceptions.

File a Claim Within the Bellevue Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations with the Help of a Dedicated Attorney

The idea of immediately beginning legal proceedings after losing a loved one can be, understandably, overwhelming. However, failing to act promptly to protect your family’s legal rights could mean losing your ability to ever demand fair financial recovery for the harm experienced in the aftermath of the tragic accident.

The seasoned legal team at The Ye Law Firm, led by Chong Ye, can answer any questions you may have about the Bellevue wrongful death statute of limitations in detail during a free—in-person or remote—private consultation. Schedule yours by calling today.