How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Usually Take?
A Wrongful Death Case Can Take Years to Resolve
Have you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party? You may be entitled to seek compensation by pursuing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. If liability in your case is clear cut, you may settle your claim with the insurance company in no time at all. However, if the cause of the accident or the amount of compensation due is unclear, your case may take months or even years to resolve.
Investigating Cause and Determining Damages
In order to establish cause and liability for your claim, you will need an attorney to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. If the police found proof at the site of the accident that makes it clear who was at fault, the investigation may proceed rapidly. However, if your case is more complex and fault cannot be easily placed, an accident reconstruction engineer and other experts may be needed to establish the facts, which might take a significant amount of time to complete.
Determining the amount of damages that family members are entitled to receive can also take time. Some categories of damages, such as medical and burial expenses, are usually calculated without much trouble. However, disputes are likely to arise when more complex damages, like lost earnings and loss of care and companionship, come into the picture. Your lawyer may need to consult with an economist to calculate the total value of your damages.
When the evidence is virtually indisputable and liability is clear, the insurance company has little motivation to take a case to trial. Since they are in a weak bargaining position, they might want to expedite the settlement in order to get the claim off their books. They might also want to quickly close the deal in order to avoid a large payout.
In other cases, it may be in the insurance company’s interests to delay settlement. If liability is unclear or the evidence suggests that the decedent was partially at fault, they may want to hold out until their experts provide a different estimate of the damages. Or, they may delay simply to wear down family members until they are ready to accept a lower offer.
A Lawsuit May Produce a Long Delay
If you decide to file suit, your case may be extended by several months or even years since the court will probably hold several hearings before the case is ready for trial. If your case is handled by a busy court with a congested calendar, expect a long delay before your case is finally heard by a jury.
An Attorney Can Help
If you decide to settle your wrongful death claim without legal representation, you will likely be lowballed by the insurance company. To ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your loss, consult with the experienced California wrongful death attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm. In a FREE case evaluation, we can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your rights and legal options, so you know where you stand. Call us today at (800) 522-7274 for immediate assistance.