how long does a wrongful death lawsuit take

Losing a loved one is a painful and emotionally challenging experience. Wrongful death lawsuits seek to provide families justice and compensation for their loss.

Our clients often ask, How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take? Unfortunately, the answer depends on the facts of your case. If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Bensinger Legal Services can review your claim and explain what to expect during the process. 

Get in touch with Bensinger Legal Services today at (419) 455-1410 or use our contact form to schedule your free consultation.

How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Take? 

A wrongful death lawsuit can take as little as a few months to several years to resolve. These cases can be complex and involve many factors that can affect the timeline.

Some of the most common factors include:

  • Facts of the case. The intricacies of your case can significantly impact the timeline. Complex issues with multiple parties and conflicting evidence may take longer to resolve.
  • Available evidence. Gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim is vital. The time it takes to collect medical records, witness statements, or expert opinions can slow down resolution.
  • Court dockets. Court schedules and caseloads can vary. A congested court system may lead to delays in hearings and trial dates.
  • Mediation and arbitration. Opting for alternative dispute resolution methods can potentially shorten the timeline. If both parties are willing to negotiate, this can be an efficient route to resolution.
  • Defendant’s willingness to settle. Often, defendants are willing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. A cooperative defendant can expedite the process, but a resistant one may lead to a long legal battle.
  • Insurance coverage. Defendants often rely on insurance companies to cover damages. Insurance providers try to pay as little as possible, which may prolong the process.
  • Defendant’s financial resources. The defendant’s financial stability can impact their willingness and ability to settle. A financially distressed defendant may be more inclined to settle sooner.
  • Counterclaims. Defendants can file counterclaims and motions to dismiss that take time to address. Responding to a defendant’s filings adds complexity that may lengthen the case.

Think about these factors before filing your claim. That way, you can be ready for how they might impact the wrongful death lawsuit timeline.

How Long to Settle a Wrongful Death Suit Quickly?

Insurance companies will often try to settle a lawsuit as soon as possible. In some cases, the insurer will offer a settlement before the plaintiff even considers filing a claim. If the plaintiff accepts this offer, the process can take only a few weeks.

Speak with an attorney before accepting these quick settlements. Insurers typically offer low amounts that do not cover all damages. If you accept a low settlement, you will not be able to file a lawsuit to recover more damages.

Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help surviving family members, but it is not a fast process. There are several stages to these lawsuits, and each can present unique challenges. Understanding the process of filing a wrongful death claim can help you estimate how long your lawsuit may take.

Case Evaluation and Evidence Review

The first step in any wrongful death lawsuit is to consult with an experienced attorney. Your attorney will evaluate the circumstances of the case, provide legal advice, and determine if you have a valid claim. 

Your attorney will then begin collecting evidence. Evidence can include medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and any other pertinent information that supports your case. While your lawyer may ask you to assist in getting some documents, they will handle reviewing and organizing the evidence.

Filing the Lawsuit

Filing a wrongful death claim involves drafting a complaint that outlines the details of the case. Your attorney will use the evidence collected to outline how the responsible party is liable for the wrongful death. Once ready, your lawyer will file this complaint with the appropriate court.

After a case begins, both sides will file and serve various legal documents. These documents outline the legal arguments and positions of both parties in the case. It’s common for defendants to submit many filings, even those lacking merit, to delay the lawsuit.

Discovery 

Discovery is the pre-trial phase where both sides exchange information and evidence about the case. It is a critical step for building a strong legal strategy. Unless exceptions apply, the other side must provide you with any relevant documents your lawyer requests. These documents can help your attorney prove how the defendant is liable.

Some defendants know that the evidence does not support them. These defendants may not cooperate with your discovery requests, further slowing the process down. 

Settlement Negotiations

Settlement can occur at any stage of the lawsuit. The strength of the claim and the defendant’s willingness to settle will affect when settlement talks begin. Most settlements happen during or after discovery once a crucial piece of evidence comes out. 

A plaintiff or defendant can begin settlement negotiations to avoid going to trial. For wrongful death cases, the defendant may agree to compensate the plaintiff for their damages. In return, the plaintiff will drop the lawsuit.

Trial

A case will go to trial after discovery if the parties don’t settle. A trial can take several days or weeks to complete. During this phase, your attorney will present the evidence and state why the law supports your claim. At the end of the trial, a judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is liable for your loved one’s wrongful death.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take If the Other Side Appeals?

Parties have 30 days to file an appeal if they have reason to question the trial court’s decision. If granted, an appeal can prolong your case by at least several months. However, appeals are rare because they are expensive and require a valid reason to file. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. You should aim to file your lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death; otherwise, the court can likely deny your claim. You can sometimes file a lawsuit after this period if you only learned of the wrongful nature of your loved one’s death after two years. 

Speak with Aaron Bensinger to File Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit

You need a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney to help file a wrongful death claim. As a personal injury lawyer with over 15 years of experience, Aaron Bensinger understands the legal complexities of these kinds of claims. He will work hard and quickly to build a strong case and hold the other side accountable. 

Contact Bensinger Legal Services now at (419) 455-1410 to arrange your complimentary consultation.

Author Photo Aaron L. Bensinger

Aaron L. Bensinger is an Ohio attorney serving personal injury and civil litigation clients. He has extensive trial experience and makes client service is his primary focus. As a partner at Balyeat, Leahy, Daley, Miller & Bensinger, LLC, Aaron happily works in Lima, OH, and serves the entire Northwest region of the state and beyond.

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