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How Long Does A Wrongful Death
Lawsuit Take?

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is heart-wrenching. While seeking justice through a wrongful death lawsuit is crucial, it’s understandable that the duration of the legal process is a pressing concern for grieving families. A common question we encounter is, “How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?”

The timeline for a wrongful death lawsuit varies. Each case is distinct, and numerous factors can influence its duration. Some cases might conclude within months, while others can extend for years. The complexity of the case, the evidence presented, and the parties involved can all impact the time it takes to reach a resolution. On average a wrongful death lawsuit is going to take between one and four years to resolve.

A wrongful death lawsuit arises when an individual’s death is caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or default of another person or entity. This legal action seeks justice for the deceased and compensation for the survivors or the estate of the departed.

At The Scranton Law Firm, we recognize the urgency and emotional toll these cases can have. Our dedicated team of wrongful death attorneys is here to guide you through every step, providing clarity on the process and potential timelines.

This article will serve as a guide to answer most questions you may have about a potential wrongful death settlement but if you are looking for a comprehensive understanding of how long a wrongful death lawsuit may take and other related questions, reach out to us. Our experienced wrongful death lawyers are ready to offer a free consultation,  address all your concerns, and map out the wrongful death lawsuit timeline for you in detail. 

What Constitutes A Wrongful Death Lawsuit ?

To successfully pursue a wrongful death suit, certain elements typically need to be established:

  1. Death of an Individual: Central to any wrongful death lawsuit is the undeniable fact that a person has died.
  2. Negligence or Intent: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s carelessness, recklessness, or deliberate actions contributed to or caused the death.
  3. Causation: Beyond establishing negligence or intent, it’s crucial to prove that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) directly resulted in the death.
  4. Quantifiable Damages: The death should have led to measurable financial burdens, including medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages like loss of companionship and the emotional distress of the survivors.
 

In the U.S., the specifics of a wrongful death suit are dictated by state laws, meaning the process and prerequisites can differ considerably across states. Given the complexities involved, consulting a seasoned wrongful death attorney is paramount to navigate the intricacies of the relevant jurisdiction and ensure the best possible outcome.

Pursuing An Insurance Settlement For Resolving A Wrongful Death Claim

Pursuing a wrongful death settlement often begins by filing a claim with the responsible party’s insurance provider. Such settlements are common in personal injury cases, where insurance companies play a pivotal role.

For example, auto insurance providers handle wrongful death claims stemming from vehicular accidents, while homeowner’s insurance addresses incidents on private properties. Similarly, professional liability insurance covers medical professionals in cases of medical malpractice.

When dealing with a wrongful death claim, the initial step involves submitting the claim to the insurance company of the party at fault for your loved one’s accident. Following this, an insurance adjuster might present a wrongful death settlement offer. However, it’s essential to approach such offers with caution for two primary reasons:

  1. Insurance companies often aim to minimize their payouts, leading them to propose lower wrongful death settlement amounts than what might be fair.
  2. Once a settlement is accepted, the door closes on pursuing any further legal action for additional damages.
 

Given these complexities, it’s crucial to have a wrongful death attorney represent your interests. By doing so, you ensure that the wrongful death settlement negotiated truly reflects the magnitude of your loss and the damages incurred

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How Long is the Wait for an Insurance Claim Settlement?

When you’ve reached a successful negotiation, your attorney will oversee the subsequent steps until you receive the settlement. Typically, wrongful death claims settled through insurance take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Initiating a Wrongful Death Lawsuit 

Regrettably, insurance settlements don’t always conclude amicably in wrongful death cases. Circumstances that might necessitate filing a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • The insurance company of the defendant not presenting a reasonable offer.
  • Denial by the defendant of their role in the death.
  • Unjustified rejection of your claim by the insurance company.
  • Damages that surpass the defendant’s insurance policy’s maximum payout.
  • Stagnant negotiations.

In such instances, your case would proceed to a civil court, where the evidence is presented before a judge or jury to reach a verdict.

Duration of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Court 

While trials can be both costly and lengthy, many families and estate representatives prefer a swift settlement. However, certain situations leave families with no option but to pursue the matter in court.

The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit in court varies based on the specifics of the case. Some might conclude within months, while others could extend over years. Your attorney will provide insights into the potential timeline of your wrongful death lawsuit, ensuring you’re prepared for the journey to secure the compensation you deserve.

Determinants of Wrongful Death Claim and Lawsuit Durations 

The timeline of a wrongful death lawsuit can be influenced by multiple factors, such as:

1. Quality and Quantity of Evidence: For a wrongful death claim to succeed, it’s essential to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence that resulted in the death. For example, in a car accident scenario, evidence must show the driver’s negligence towards other drivers and pedestrians. Gathering robust evidence like medical records, accident scene documentation, surveillance footage, police reports, and witness testimonies can expedite the case.

2. Reluctance from Defendant or Insurance Provider: If the defendant or their insurance company is uncooperative, it can prolong the compensation process. Sometimes, this is a strategy to pressurize you into a hasty settlement. In such situations, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit might be the best course of action.

3. Intricacy of the Case: Certain cases, like medical malpractice, inherently require detailed investigations, making them time-consuming. Conversely, cases like slip and fall accidents might be more straightforward. However, if the deceased had a role in the incident, determining their level of fault can add to the case’s duration. Comparative negligence rules, which vary by state, can also impact potential damages.

4. Additional Complicating Factors: Several other elements can add complexity to your case:

  • Involvement of multiple parties at fault.
  • Claims against large corporations.
  • Encountering bad faith insurance tactics.
  • Cases with multiple victims or fatalities.

Our legal team can provide an estimated duration for your claim or trial based on your case’s specifics.

5. Statute of Limitations: Each state has its own timeframe for filing wrongful death suits, with most states setting a two-year window from the date of death. There are also specific exceptions that might allow lawsuits beyond this period. Your attorney will guide you on the relevant state regulations applicable to your situation.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Timeline

The First Stage

It’s crucial to establish the grounds for a lawsuit promptly.

Probate

In many cases, opening a probate estate becomes necessary when suing on behalf of the deceased. If the beneficiaries are minors, appointing a guardian might be required. 

Establishing Damages

The lawsuit will also involve establishing potential damages, which can range from burial costs and medical bills to compensation for pain and suffering. Some states even award punitive damages as a way to deter future negligence.

Discovery

The discovery phase is a critical part of the lawsuit. During this time, lawyers gather evidence, such as medical bills, eyewitness reports, and records of faulty products, to support the case. The primary goal is to prove negligence or recklessness, a breach of duty, and that this negligence directly caused the death.


Seeking a Settlement

Many wrongful death suits are settled outside of court through mediation or arbitration. However, it’s essential to consult with a lawyer before accepting any settlement. 

Going to Trial

If no agreement is reached, the case will proceed to trial, where the jury will determine if a wrongful death occurred and calculate the damages. 

Appealing the Decision

If the decision is unfavorable, consider appealing, especially if new relevant information emerges.

Duration of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit’s duration varies, ranging from a few months to several years, depending on various factors. People want a simple answer to the question how long does a wrongful death lawsuit take, but it is impossible to give a simple answer.

Connect with an experienced attorney for a No-Cost Case Review

Three of the most common questions we get are “How long does it take for a wrongful death lawsuit?’ or  “What’s the typical duration for settling wrongful death claims?” or “How does the timeline of a wrongful death lawsuit compare to an insurance claim?”

While these inquiries are understandable, the answers aren’t straightforward due to the myriad of factors involved.

Our experienced wrongful death legal team can help you better answer these questions and all the wrongful death questions that you have during your free consultation. With a track record of resolving numerous wrongful death claims annually and settling more then $1,000,000,000 for our clients our attorneys can provide insights into the potential timeline of your case.

Fill out the contact form for a complimentary consultation. We’re here to navigate you through the legal journey and advocate for justice following your loved one’s tragic loss. Rest assured, any sensitive or confidential information shared during our free consultations is safeguarded under the attorney-client privilege.

Furthermore, our personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee structure for accepted wrongful death cases. This means you’re not charged unless we secure compensation for your family.

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