New York Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases

How long does one have to sue for Wrongful Death in New York? In the State of New York there is a 2 year statute of limitations for commencing a lawsuit. The law is set forth in Estate Powers and Trust Law (EPTL) § 5-4.1 entitled:

"Action by personal representative for wrongful act, neglect or default causing death of decedent".

1. The personal representative, duly appointed in this state or any other jurisdiction, of a decedent who is survived by distributees may maintain an action to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the decedent's death against a person who would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such wrongful conduct if death had not ensued. Such an action must be commenced within two years after the decedent's death;... When the distributees do not participate in the administration of the decedent's estate under a will appointing an executor who refuses to bring such action, the distributees are entitled to have an administrator appointed to prosecute the action for their benefit.
There are exceptions to the rule. For example, it there is a criminal action pending against the potential defendant in the lawsuit, the administrator is granted at least one year from the date of the termination of the criminal case to start the wrongful death case against that person. Also, if the beneficiary of the Wrongful Death Case is an infant (under the age of 18) then the Statute of Limitations for the infant to commence the lawsuit does not start until the infant turns 18 (though a notice of claim would still have to be timely filed where required). Additionally the Wrongful Death Action can only be started by someone who has been officially appointed as Administrator or Exexutor of the estate of the person who died. It is best to consult an experienced New York Personal Injury Lawyer if you are considering legal action as there are always exceptions and nuances to the rule. For a free consultation contact 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463).

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