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What, if any, is the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit?

Jersey City, NJ |

my son was murdered on 8-16-2008. he was 26 years old at the time. his killer was convicted in 6-2011 and sentenced in 8-2011. he had a dependant daughter who was 2 years old at the time. is there a time limit to file suit and his murderer?

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The Wrongful Death statute states that a claim for wrongful death survives beyond two years if the defendant is convicted of murder. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:31-3 states:

2A:31-3. Limitation of actions; exceptions

Every action brought under this chapter shall be commenced within 2 years after the death of the decedent, and not thereafter, provided, however, that if the death resulted from murder, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter for which the defendant has been convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity or adjudicated delinquent, the action may be brought at any time.

Legal disclaimer: The statement above is general information and not intended to be a legal opinion to be followed. The person requesting information and all others reading the answer should retain an attorney before making a decision. The information provided does not create an attorney-client relationship. Contact our office to obtain specific legal advice at (215) 702-2708 for Pennsylvania or New Jersey matters.



thank you, mr. swain. my son's killer was convicted of murder, although he is appealing that conviction now. i will try to find a lawyer to discuss the suit on behalf of my son's daughter. he was unmarried and living at home with my wife and i at the time, and his daughter lives with her mother.


A statute of limitations limits the time frame by which you are able to pursue litigation against a defendant.

Wrongful death statutes are governed N.J.S.A. 2A:31-1 et seq. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of the decedent's (your son's) death. However, if the defendant whom caused the your son's death resulted from murder, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter and the defendant is either convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity or adjudicated delinquent, then the action may be brought at any time.

At this point, your claim may be time barred. However, contact a local attorney whom handles wrongful death claims to check whether the facts of your case (most importantly, the defendant's conviction) does not bar your claim.

Good luck!

These answers are not intended nor shall it be deemed to be the rendering of legal advise, they are given based on the information provided which is insufficient to give meaningful advise. These answers shall not be construed as part of the creation of an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the attorney to respond to further inquiry. The Questioner has responsibility of obtaining legal advise from an attorney and is urged to do so.



thank you mr. dorry!! the killer is appealing the verdict, so this can be a way for us to push back. there's no money involved, just our way of saying we are not finished yet either.


Yes, there is a time limit. Suits for wrongful death did not exist at common law. They are a creation of statutes passed by state legislatures. The limitations on some of them have been as short as 1 year. You should check with a New Jersey lawyer. It is possible that the statute of limitations was tolled while the potential defendant was incarcerated. At least, look into that. I am unclear what his daughter has to do with your question.



the above 2 responses from nj lawyers clarified the statute of limitations for me. my son's daughter lost her father at 2 years old, and i am inquiring now for her rights to sue for wrongful death.


Generally, the Statute of Limitations is 2 years after the time of the incident/death, however, there are exceptions. Seek an experienced personal injury attorney ASAP to discuss the details of your potential case. Many attorneys, such as myself, offer free 30 minute consultations.

The above is general information only and is not legal advice. The information provided does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney until we sign a retainer agreement.

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