What are the Time Limits to Make a Wrongful Death Case?

Donna M. Di Donato

In Rhode Island, the legislature has enacted the Rhode Island Wrongful Death Statute, also referred to as the Death by Wrongful Act (Law § 10-7-1, et. Seq). There are different sections within the Wrongful Death Act in Rhode Island detailing the following aspects: the types of damages recoverable, by whom the damages are recoverable, who shall bring the wrongful death action on behalf of the plaintiff’s decedent, and the timeframe for bringing those claims. The scope of this article concerns the timeframe within which to bring a wrongful death claim.

The Wrongful Death Statute dictates that every action brought pursuant to this act shall be commenced as follows:

…[E]very action brought pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced within three (3) years after the death of the person. With respect to any death caused by any wrongful act, neglect or default which is not known at the time of death, the action shall be commenced within three (3) years of the time that the wrongful act, neglect or default is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered. R.I.G.L. §10-7-2.

In a further section, within the Wrongful Death Statute, which is entitled “Pain and suffering recoverable-limitation of action,” the statute specifically notes the following:

Except as otherwise provided, every action under § 10-7-5 shall be commenced within three (3) years after the death of the person. With respect to any death caused by any wrongful act, neglect or default which is not known at the time of death, the action shall be commenced within three (3) years of the time that the wrongful act, neglect or default is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered. R.I.G.L. §10-7-7.

In light of the above, the Statute of Limitations under the Wrongful Death Act mandates that a complaint be filed in the court no later than three (3) years from the date that the person’s death; unless the cause of the wrongful act is not known at the time of death, then the three (3) year Statute of Limitations period would begin to run as soon as the wrongful act, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered.

In the event that a loved one suffers wrongful death, feel free to contact the legal team at Decof, Decof & Barry to discuss your case. They have decades of experience providing guidance to individuals and families dealing with areas of wrongful death.

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