The length a wrongful death case takes to finish depends on the damages associated with it, because each person’s damages in a wrongful death case can be a little bit different. These include factors such as the person, their age, their occupation, how the accident happened, and if they had any fault in it. The damages can really make a difference. If somebody has no insurance or has a really low limit, then the survivor will probably receive very little and have it settled in a week.
The process of most wrongful death cases, if appropriately handled, will take on average 18 months. They can take as much as five or 10 years, depending on the damages a person can actually prove. So wrongful death cases usually take a little bit longer than other accident cases, because there are more pieces to put together without the client’s testimony. In a regular car accident case where the client has not passed away, they can fill a lot of those holes in their testimony, but in wrongful death cases, it takes a little longer to prove the facts. Also, it is a little more difficult to prove the damages. More experts are needed to prove the damages suffered in a wrongful death case. If you have the appropriate policy-approved damages, it could take between 12 months and five years to complete a wrongful death case.
Factors Affecting Length
The factors which come into play in a wrongful death case can be the age, occupation, time of life and comparative fault of the deceased victim. In the case of comparative fault, the attorney and client are able to collect a portion of the wrongful death suit. Often proving who is at fault can take longer because it requires the use of witnesses, investigators, experts, and law enforcement, in order to prove simple facts. In other cases, this information would likely come from the client, however, in wrongful death suits, that is not a possibility.
Additionally, proving damages can be more difficult than in a wrongful death case because it is a conjecture of experts. In a car accident case, there are medical bills to prove exactly what the medical treatment costs. However, in a wrongful death case the attorney is trying to prove what their future income would have been, as well as how much pain and suffering they had as a result of the accident in the hours or days before they passed away. It is a lot more of an art than a science, proving the damages in a wrongful death case versus a regular car accident case.
The wrongful death case is completed when the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company has fully compensated the victim’s family for the loss which the at-fault party caused. A wrongful death case is not completed until the victim’s family and representative of the estate has signed off on whatever settlement has been agreed to by all parties.
Sometimes in wrongful death cases, monies are placed either in trust or in an estate for the benefit of minors who have sustained a loss. Sometimes those cases stay open until the youngest minor reaches the age of majority, meaning they become an adult. Additionally, if the parties are not able to reach a settlement, then the wrongful death case ends when the attorneys have taken the case to trial, and won a verdict from the jury that at least represents the full value of the case.
The end goals a wrongful death attorney should have for their client is that they be fully compensated for the loss caused by the at-fault party. While a court cannot bring a loved one back, a successful attorney will get the family what they deserve after suffering that loss, to at least put them in the right financial position to compensate for the lost income of one of their family members who passed away. The lost income, in addition to the loss of enjoyment of the person, is all covered by the at-fault party or their insurance company.