Personal Injury Lawyer
Shootings happen for many reasons. Sometimes children gain access to a gun and accidentally shoot someone because an apartment resident failed to lock a gun safe. In those cases, the gun owner can be held liable for wrongful death.
Sometimes armed criminals are able to enter an apartment building because the security lock is broken. When the criminal shoots an apartment resident, the building owner can be held liable for failing to keep the security locked door in working order.
Some gun crimes occur in apartment building parking lots. When the building owner has neglected to repair broken lights or to provide adequate security, the owner can be held liable for a wrongful death that ordinary precautions would have prevented.
A security negligence lawyer can help families who lose a loved one because an apartment building owner failed to protect residents from crime. A personal injury lawyer can also help families bring a wrongful death action against apartment residents whose negligent conduct caused or contributed to a fatal shooting.
Acting promptly is critical. While states set different deadlines for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, a claim for compensation is more likely to be successful if facts are investigated immediately. The family’s lawyer will want to contact witnesses and document problems with photographs before the apartment owner a chance to repair a security lock or to fix broken lights.
Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Shooting at an Apartment
Every state sets time limits for starting lawsuits. A law that creates a time limit for filing a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. The period during which a lawsuit can be filed is called a limitations period.
The limitations period for initiating a wrongful death claim varies from state to state. Some states have different limitations periods, depending on whether the suit alleges that the defendant acted intentionally or negligently. The limitations period for bringing a wrongful death claim based on negligence is usually, but not always, the same as the limitations period for commencing a personal injury lawsuit.
The shortest limitations period for a wrongful death caused by shooting at an apartment is 1 year and the longest is 6 years. Most states have established a limitations period of 2 or 3 years.
In addition to bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, states permit the victim’s estate to bring a survival claim if the victim did not die immediately. A survival claim seeks compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering prior to death. The limitations period for a survival claim is usually the same as the limitations period for a wrongful death claim.
Tolling the Limitations Period for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Shooting at an Apartment
State laws often “toll” the limitations period under certain circumstances. When a limitations period is tolled, it stops running. States define certain events that cause the limitations period to stop and restart.
Some states, for example, toll the limitations period when the person who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim is a minor. Tolling ends (meaning the time period starts to run again) when that person reaches the age of 18.
Some states toll the limitations period when the defendant is charged with (or could be charged with) a crime. A potential charge of criminal negligence might, therefore, toll the limitations period in some states.
When an estate will bring a wrongful death or survival claim, some states toll the limitations period until the estate enters probate.
States often have very different laws governing limitations periods. Obtaining legal advice soon after a shooting in an apartment building will help families protect their right to bring a wrongful death claim against every responsible party.
If you have questions about a wrongful death case, please contact a wrongful death attorney today.