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Wrongful death could have increased statute of limitations in DC

When you lose a loved one, all you want is answers -- how could it have happened? What could have been done to prevent it? Was it an accident, or were there at-fault parties that contributed to the fatal incident? Pending the completion of an investigation or an autopsy (both of which can take weeks if not months), the answers you need to decide if you want to go ahead with a wrongful death case can elude you.

That's why the District of Colombia is considering a bill that would extend the statute of limitations on wrongful death cases, giving plaintiffs an amount of time closer to the window that Maryland residents are afforded.

The Wrongful Death Act of 2012 would double the current Washington D.C. statute of limitations for filing such a claim, from one year to two. At only a single year, D.C. is amongst some of the shortest statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in the country. Under such a time constraint, it could be difficult for the victim's family and the attorney(s) representing them to compile the evidence and file a strong case.

Barring extenuating circumstances, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in the state of Maryland is three years from the time of death.

A hearing was recently held regarding the new legislation, and there were few critics. A representative for the Office of the Attorney General even admitted that there were no legal deficiencies with the proposal and that, if passed, the bill would "better align the [District]... with our neighbors" -- a reference to Maryland's three-year window for wrongful death claims.

Source: Blog of Legal Times, "D.C. Council Weighs Extending Time To File Wrongful Death Lawsuits," Zoe Tillman, May 18, 2012

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