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How Long Will It Take To Settle My Wrongful Death Case?

When anyone suffers the loss of a loved one through wrongful death, that tragedy can affect every aspect of his or her lives.  It takes time to work through the emotions and face the monetary and logistical changes that may result.  In the midst of all that, you may begin to realize that you have grounds to consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit and receive damages for a wrongful death claim.  While no one wants to taint the memory of a loved one with a court battle over a wrongful death lawsuit, that may be your only option to receive the wrongful death claim you deserve.  

Many clients wonder how long a wrongful death lawsuit will take, and there is no definitive answer.  There can be serious conflicts over death claims that may keep your legal team from settling your lawsuit out of court.  As a result, your  lawyer may advise that you be prepared for a court battle.  Generally, wrongful death lawsuits may take from 3 months to several years to complete

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, you must begin by determining with your personal injury lawyer if you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.  Your lawyer may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit if the death was caused by such actions as a reckless traffic violation, medical malpractice, workplace negligence, criminal behavior, negligence at a supervised event, or even product liability. However, that is not all that your personal injury lawyer must decide before they are prepared to file a wrongful death claim as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. 

In addition, you and your wrongful death lawyer must determine the damages that are fair and reasonable for your wrongful death claim.  Your claim will be calculated based on factors like the decedent’s age, character, earning capacity, life expectancy, health, and the needs and circumstances of their survivors.  In addition, your lawyer will calculate a fair and just compensation amount for your wrongful death lawsuit based on the loss of financial and emotional support, the loss of prospective inheritance, funeral and medical expenses, and more.

You and your legal tea must also consider the special circumstances if the decedent in your wrongful death lawsuit is a child, an unborn baby, a spouse and parent who cares for the home and children full-time, or an elderly person.  Your personal injury lawyer should advise you that wrongful death claims could be small for a child or elderly person, in part because their earning capacity is impossible to predict or has already expired.  For a full-time spouse and parent it may be determined that the wrongful death claim includes additional expenses for someone to fulfill the decedent’s tasks with the children and the home.  Some states do not even allow claims for unborn babies in the womb, so your personal injury lawyer must consider state laws when filing such a wrongful death claim. 

As you consider these options, however, be sure your personal injury lawyer is on target to file your wrongful death claim within your state statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits.  That statute ranges from one to three years, depending on the state.  If you and your lawyer do not file your wrongful death lawsuit within that period, your wrongful death claim will fail. 

Taking Your Wrongful Death Claim to Court
Once your wrongful death lawsuit comes before a court, the judge may recommend that your personal injury lawyer and that of the defendant attempt to settle your wrongful death claim out of court.  If that fails, they may recommend an arbiter to facilitate such a settlement for your wrongful death claim.  If your personal injury lawyer can reach a settlement in your wrongful death lawsuit, your case will end quickly and the defendant will be ordered to pay the settlement.  If the negotiations fail, your personal injury lawyer will have to take your wrongful death lawsuit to court where it may take a few months to several years to resolve your wrongful death claim.

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