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Our Columbus Wrongful Death Attorneys Explain Ohio’s Statute of Limitations

Wrongful Death

In Ohio, wrongful death claims are subject to a “statute of limitations.” This is a law that places an outer limit on the amount of time the victim’s personal representative has to file a claim. Once the statute of limitations expires, the victim’s personal representative can no longer seek financial compensation on the family’s behalf. So, it is extremely important that the personal representative hires a Columbus wrongful death attorney to take appropriate legal action in time.

What is Ohio’s Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims?

In most cases, Ohio’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. This two-year “limitations period” runs from the date of death—not necessarily the date of the fatal accident. So, for example, if the victim was involved in an accident on January 1, 2021, and died a week later, the estate’s wrongful death claim would expire on January 8, 2023.

While this is the general rule, there are some exceptions. These exceptions can either shorten or lengthen the amount of time a victim’s personal representative has to file a wrongful death claim. For example:

  • The “Discovery Rule” – Ohio’s “discovery” rule extends the deadline to file a wrongful death claim in some cases. It applies when the victim’s family could not reasonably have discovered the negligent (or otherwise wrongful) acts that led to the victim’s death within the standard two-year limitations period.
  • Fatal ProductRelated Accidents – Under Ohio’s wrongful death statute, families cannot pursue wrongful death claims against product manufacturers more than 10 years after “the date that the product was delivered to its first purchaser or first lessee”—unless a statutory exception applies. Examples of these statutory exceptions include fraud, express warranties longer than 10 years, and cases in which the victim dies during the last two years of the 10-year period (in which case “a product liability claim may be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death”).

Regardless of how much time is remaining before the statute of limitations expires, it is important to speak with a Columbus wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. There are a few reasons why:

  • The attorney will need to investigate and gather evidence of liability. Key evidence can disappear if it isn’t preserved promptly.  
  • It takes time to prepare a wrongful death lawsuit. The attorney representing your loved one’s estate will need time to evaluate the evidence, develop legal arguments and determine how much compensation to pursue.  
  • The sooner you take legal action, the sooner you can move on. For many grieving family members, securing just compensation is a key step toward finding closure.

Speak with a Columbus Wrongful Death Attorney for Free

If you have a wrongful death claim (or believe you may have a wrongful death claim), we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with an experienced Columbus wrongful death attorney in confidence, please call 888-444-7440 or send us your contact information online today.