Electrocution Accident Statute of Limitations
Each State has a requirement, called a statute of limitations, that a lawsuit to recover for an electrocution accident must be filed within a limit of time, or the claim is lost. There are additional rules and there are exceptions in applying even the basic rules. The variations on the rules vary by state. For example: when was the claim discovered, tolling, and special limitations in some cases. An attorney must be consulted about this. This area of the law is not suitable for amateur analysis.
Note especially that there are other rules that may apply in addition to the statute of limitations, for example the tort claims notice requirements if any government employees were involved. Federal claims are analyzed a bit differently, but the basic rules for some states follow.
Oregon Statute of Limitations
For a typical electrical injury claim (for example injury from mistake or carelessness) the Oregon limitation is 2 years for personal injury.
Actions for certain injuries to person not arising on contract; action for overtime or premium pay; action for professional malpractice; effect of fraud or deceit; action for injuries to person arising from nuclear incident. (1) An action for assault, battery, false imprisonment, or for any injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract, and not especially enumerated in this chapter, shall be commenced within two years … ” Oregon Revised Statutes 12.110.
Property injury has a longer period, but the personal injury claim is generally much more important. For an accident causing death, the period is generally three years.
California Statute of Limitations
In California, an electrical injury claim has a two year statute of limitation, including claims arising from death.
§ 335. Periods of limitation prescribed
The periods prescribed for the commencement of actions other than for the recovery of real property, are as follows:
§ 335.1. Assault and battery; Personal injury; Wrongful death
Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Cal Code Civ Proc § 335 (2008)
Washington Statute of Limitations
Three years for personal injury including wrongful death cases. See RCWA 4.16.080.
If Government Employee Involved: Tort Claims Notice
The state tort claim notice requirements do not apply to Federal employees.
An employee of the United States or its subdivisions may have caused the electrocution injury. For example, the Bonneville Power Administration has electric power distribution lines throughout the Pacific Northwest. If a BPA employee was negligent and caused injury or death, then the Federal Tort Claims Act provides a two year period to file a tort claim notice. The notice is on a Form 95 and must ask for a specific amount. More information on a Federal tort claim will be provided in a forthcoming article on this website. If the claim is denied, then the lawsuit must be filed within 6 months after the denial is mailed:
28 U.S. Code § 2401. Time for commencing action against United States
(a) Except as provided by the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, every civil action commenced against the United States shall be barred unless the complaint is filed within six years after the right of action first accrues. The action of any person under legal disability or beyond the seas at the time the claim accrues may be commenced within three years after the disability ceases.
(b) a tort claim against the United States shall be forever barred unless it is presented in writing to the appropriate Federal agency within two years after such claim accrues or unless action is begun within six months after the date of mailing, by certified or registered mail, of notice of final denial of the claim by the agency to which it was presented.
Oregon Government Employee
If the government employee works for the State of Oregon or its political subdivisions, for example a City or a County, then a tort claim notice must be delivered within 180 days or 1 year if death was the result.
30.275 Notice of claim; time of notice; time of action. (1) No action arising from any act or omission of a public body or an officer, employee or agent of a public body within the scope of ORS 30.260 to 30.300 shall be maintained unless notice of claim is given as required by this section.
(2) Notice of claim shall be given within the following applicable period of time, not including the period, not exceeding 90 days, during which the person injured is unable to give the notice because of the injury or because of minority, incompetency or other incapacity:
(a) For wrongful death, within one year after the alleged loss or injury.
(b) For all other claims, within 180 days after the alleged loss or injury.”
The notice must be in writing, must set out some specifics, and must be given to the appropriate employee.