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How Long Does It Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

After losing a loved one too soon to the negligence of a third party, you can seek justice, closure, and financial compensation through a wrongful death claim. No amount of money will undo the harm you feel from losing a loved one in such a tragic way, and it might not even help alleviate it. But the truth remains that losing a loved one in an accident often leaves behind stacks of medical bills and new debts caused by lost wages and benefits, like day-to-day assistance in the home.

If you’re waiting on a payday from a successful wrongful death claim, then please don’t feel guilty. It is completely fair for you to count the days until you get the financial support you need. Will you need to count the days for long, though? How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim or win a wrongful death lawsuit? There is no simple answer because many factors that comprise a wrongful death case can also change how long it takes to pan out.

What Can Slow Down a Wrongful Death Case?

Three main factors that can delay a wrongful death case are:

  • Liability: Every personal injury claim – wrongful death claims included – can hit a major roadblock when it comes to questions of liability. In many states, split liability will reduce the amount of compensation that the claimant or plaintiff can receive from the defendant by a percentage equal to the deceased’s liability. In others, defendants can’t be held accountable for damages unless they are 100% liable for the wrongful death. Because liability arguments are a direct way for insurance companies to pay less in compensation, you can be certain that they will take their time to contest liability however they can.
  • Damages: Calculating the damages that you should be provided after losing a loved one is difficult. The final cost of medical care might be straightforward to calculate, but other damages you can demand are not. For example, depending on the state you live in, you could demand compensation for the loss of companionship you feel without your loved one around, which is an abstract but important damage. You can also commonly seek damages for the wages your loved one likely would have earned in life had their fatal accident or injury never occurred. But calculating those wages can be tricky and take some time.
  • Investigations: Finding the truth of a fatal accident can be more complicated than you first expect. Your wrongful death attorney may require more time to investigate the evidence of the accident or incident. They might even want to hire investigative experts and third-party medical professionals for further insight. As more and more people become involved in an investigation, it will naturally take longer to conclude.

Will a Wrongful Death Claim End in a Year?

We have discussed a few factors that make predicting a wrongful death claim’s timeline extremely difficult. You really shouldn’t go into a claim expecting it to end within a set amount of days, weeks, months, or years.

If an estimation for a wrongful death claim’s timeline must be made, then you could assume that the average case takes about 12 months to conclude. Wrongful death cases are highly sensitive and expensive, so you can predict some back-and-forth while negotiating a settlement. But if the details of the case are convoluted and liability is hotly contested, then you will need to be ready to exercise more patience because the case could easily take 18 to 24 months or longer to conclude.

How Can You Avoid a Lengthy Wrongful Death Case?

You can’t guarantee that your wrongful death case will go quickly or smoothly. But you can improve your chances of avoiding unnecessary delays by working with an experienced wrongful death attorney. With a legal professional leading the way or representing you, questions of liability, legal issues, damages, and more will be easier and quicker to answer. You will also know how to send responses and inquiries to the opposing parties, so there won’t be communication delays there.

With everything considered, hiring a wrongful death attorney is something you should do soon after losing your loved one if you want to give yourself a better chance of ending the case sooner than later. Even if you aren’t waiting for compensation through a settlement, you can still appreciate having the case concluded, so you don’t feel stuck.

If you want to speak with a compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorney in Waterloo, then please dial (319) 220-0416 now and connect with Ball, Kirk & Holm. We have been assisting the people of our communities with sensitive legal matters since opening our doors in 1958. See what our extensive experience can do for you and your family by contacting us today.