How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?

Unfortunately for many of you — if you are reading this — you have experienced the loss of a loved one caused by the act or inaction of another person or entity. It could have been something like a car accident that caused immediate death or exposure to asbestos that caused mesothelioma, and, thus, a long and painful death. Whichever it was, your loved one is now gone and you are left with your own pain and suffering and quite possibly a lot of bills.

The estate may have filed a wrongful death action, and if it has, then that is one step in the right direction toward compensation for the decedent’s loved ones. But the time to wait for the end results of that wrongful death claim or lawsuit can seem like forever. So, how long does a wrongful death lawsuit actually take? As it is with so many things in personal injury claims and lawsuits: it just depends on the case and its unique facts and circumstances. Here’s a summary of what that may mean for you.

What are the circumstances of the case?

How long a wrongful death claim takes is completely dependent on the circumstances of the case. Consider some of the following questions as guidance:

  • How straightforward is the link between causation and liability and damages? Alternatively, how complex is the link among the same?
  • How much evidence do you actually have? Is the evidence sufficient? How much evidence may you still need to obtain? For instance, do you still need to get the results of an accident reconstruction report? Are you waiting on some medical determination?
  • Are there multiple parties who may be potentially liable either in full or in part?
  • Did the decedent live for some time before dying of the injury? If so, then additional complexities may impact the cause of death. For instance, what if your loved one was dying of mesothelioma caused by long-term asbestos exposure but was in a pedestrian accident before the mesothelioma took over the body completely — well before the estimated life expectancy with mesothelioma?
  • What other facts of the case may determine the complexity of the case and, therefore, impact the duration of the case?

Answering these questions will help you begin to understand the gravity of the case. It will also highlight why estimating how long a wrongful death lawsuit may take may be a fruitless task.

Will you settle or go to trial?

Another significant factor in how long a wrongful death action may take is if you intend to settle or go to trial. You may not even know it before the lawsuit is filed whether you intend to settle, but through strategic negotiations with a skillful attorney representing you, a settlement may surprise you and, thus, end the wrongful death action well before you anticipated it.

On the other hand, a just and fair settlement may not materialize, so you go to trial. The latter markedly increases the duration of a wrongful death action. It depends on how long discovery takes, the amount of pleadings filed, and hearings scheduled, and then how long trial lasts, which is dependent on the number of witnesses and amount of evidence to be submitted. Then, even after trial, a party may appeal, and thus the wrongful action ensues. If you need to file a wrongful action but are worried about the timing, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney. He or she will be able to review your case and discuss with you all of your options. A definitive answer, albeit, may not be possible as much as it may not be advisable, but it will help you grasp what exactly you can expect. Contact the Ledger Law Firm today for your free initial consultation.