It is almost impossible to put a time limit on wrongful death cases. If you file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is difficult to determine the average length of time it takes between filing a claim and receiving a settlement.
There are too many factors that could lead to a case lasting weeks, months, or even a year.
Analyzing the Circumstance
Before you even file the claim, your lawyer may analyze your case. Straightforward cases may take a shorter amount of time to analyze and then to go to trial. Complicated cases, however, take more analysis. Examples of complex cases include:
- Cases involving more than one defendant
- Cases that involved an illness before death
- Cases without a straightforward connection between causation and liability
If you have a complex case, odds are you will have to wait longer to settle.
The negotiation process can take time. Most cases settle out of court. If you don’t go to court, it does significantly decrease the time it takes to receive a settlement. However, the negotiations can still take weeks. The insurance adjuster or defendant may be the first to offer a settlement. Then, it is up to you and your attorney to decide whether you should accept the settlement. Typically, you do not want to accept the first offer. You would reject the offer and then propose a counteroffer. This could go back and forth a couple of times before you decide on a settlement amount.
In some cases, you won’t be able to decide on the amount. If the defendant does not offer you a fair settlement, then you have to take it to trial.
Going to Trial
If you choose to go to trial, the wrongful death lawsuit takes longer. A trial has several components including discovery, pleas, and hearings. Once the trial begins, the amount of evidence that you have and the number of witnesses can extend the length of a trial. You may have to prepare yourself for a long trial. Even after the trial is finished and the judge gives his or her judgment, you may not receive your settlement right away. The defendant has the right to appeal the judgment.
It can be difficult to determine how long it will take for a wrongful death case to conclude. If you are worried about the length of time, set up a consultation with a lawyer.