One of the most important questions Asheville wrongful death attorneys have is when a cause of action arose. In other words, when did the injury or accident occur? This question is important because all civil actions, including those for wrongful death under a theory of negligence, must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations.
The specific statute of limitations varies by state and by type of case, but essentially these statutes limit the amount of time you have to file a case against somebody. In North Carolina, pursuant to Article 5 § 1-53 of the General Statutes, wrongful death actions have a two-year statute of limitations. This two-year period starts running at the time of death. In the North Carolina General Statutes there are several different statutes of limitations depending on the type of case and even the type of injury.
In Alldredge v. Good Samaritan Home, Inc., the Indiana Supreme Court dealt with the issue of what happens if the cause of the accident is not discovered during the statute of limitation. In Alldredge, the plaintiff's personal injury lawyer discovered that Venita Hargis, a nursing home patient, had died after being attacked by another resident, and not as a result of falling as claimed by the nursing home. In our legal system, you generally cannot sue for something that is truly an accident where nobody is at fault. The injury or harm must be caused by someone's negligent or intentional actions. In Alldredge, the court found that not only did the victim die from being attacked by another patient, but the defendant nursing home purposefully and fraudulently covered or "concealed" the real cause of Ms. Hargis' death. Even though it was not discovered during the two-year statute of limitations, the court said the plaintiff could still bring an action because the defendant's fraudulent concealment "tolled" the statute of limitation.
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