What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?
Under California law, an injured person has up to two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. After that “statute of limitations” has expired, the injury victim may be kept from bringing a claim. If the victim dies before filing a lawsuit within that statute of limitations, or after filing a lawsuit that has not concluded, the right to bring that cause of action passes to the deceased person’s “successor in interest” under the California Code of Civil Procedure 330.70. A successor in interest is defined as a beneficiary of the estate. Either the successor in interest or the personal representative of the estate can bring a “survival action” to recover personal injury damages the victim could have recovered, had he or she lived.
It’s essential to know that the statute of limitations in some cases can be longer than two years, such as with injury to a minor or medical malpractice, or there may be timelines that are considerably shorter, such as a claim against a government agency. Always contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can to make sure you preserve your right to file a claim.