When a wrongful death lawsuit is brought to a court, there are legal filings by both sides and legal procedures that control how the case progresses. You may wonder how long a wrongful death lawsuit takes and why it takes so long.
Greenville wrongful death attorney Robert “Bobby” Jones of Bobby Jones Law explains how much time a wrongful death lawsuit takes to complete.
How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take to Settle?
A wrongful death lawsuit takes 1-4 years. Most cases fall somewhere in the middle of the timeline. It’s possible for a case to resolve in a shorter or longer timeframe. The exact amount of time depends on a variety of factors that are specific to the case.
Why do wrongful death cases take so long?
Wrongful cases may seem to take a long time because they are complex claims for high dollar amounts. The topic of any wrongful death case is serious – whether someone has legal responsibility for the death of another.
The parties will spend significant time building their respective cases, preparing for trial, and exploring the possibility of a non-trial resolution.
Timeline for a Wrongful Death Claim
Filing the complaint
A wrongful death claim starts with the plaintiff filing a summons and complaint in court. You must serve the paperwork to the other party. Service of process can occur the same day the complaint is filed, but usually, it takes a few days or weeks.
Waiting for a response
The other side has 30 days to respond to the summons and complaint.
Discovery and case-building
Here is where most of the time is spent in a wrongful death claim. As the plaintiff, you must prove the elements, including the negligence of the other party, causation of the accident, and the victim’s death. You can expect the defense to strongly contest one or more of these points. You may need to investigate details, work with experts, and interview witnesses. South Carolina legal procedures can help, allowing you to conduct depositions, submit interrogatories, and seek admissions from the other party.
Preliminary motions and court appearances
Going to court with preliminary motions can narrow issues in dispute. It can ensure that the trial process is fair. Court motions and status hearings require notice, so it can take several weeks to have a court appearance.
Waiting for your trial date
When a case goes to trial, the court sets time aside on its calendar to hear the case. A trial date is set in advance so that the parties can subpoena witnesses and prepare their cases. Exactly how far in the future a case is scheduled depends on how long the parties expect the trial to last and how many cases are currently pending before the court.
Most cases resolve through settlement, even wrongful death cases. However, in an important matter like a wrongful death case, it can take time to negotiate the appropriate settlement. Each party evaluates their respective position and the likely value of the case. Then, they discuss where they may be willing to settle the case by agreement.
Should I Just Settle My Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Don’t just settle your wrongful death lawsuit too quickly. You may receive far less than you deserve.
It’s important to consider the time spent in litigation as you consider how to pursue your case. It’s true that a wrongful death case can take a long time – it’s completely normal to think the process can be long and tiresome. The time it takes to resolve the case is an interest that can be balanced with the goal of receiving justice and the full amount of compensation that is appropriate.
How Do You Make a Wrongful Death Case Go Faster?
The way to make a wrongful death case resolve quicker is to have strong evidence – and plenty of it. The stronger your case, the better position you are in to reach an appropriate settlement or present your case at trial. Legal counsel can assist you in pursuing your case efficiently.