The amount of time required to settle wrongful death claims may range from a few months to several years, depending on the specific circumstances.
Why You Should Think Twice About Accepting an Insurance Company’s Initial Offer
If you and other members of your family are struggling to make ends meet without your loved one’s income, you may hope to settle a wrongful death lawsuit and receive a settlement quickly. That may not be possible, though, and if it is possible, it may not be in your best interest.
If the defendant accepts responsibility for your loved one’s death, an insurance company representing that individual may offer a settlement. Although it may be tempting to accept a quick settlement when you are struggling to pay your bills, you may regret it down the road.
Insurance companies typically offer grieving family members settlements that are much lower than what they deserve in order to close cases quickly and protect their bottom line. Relatives of a deceased person often have no idea how much compensation they may be entitled to and think that a settlement that an insurance company has offered is fair. They may come to realize years later that the amount they accepted does not even come close to fully compensating them for their losses. At that time, they do not have the right to seek additional compensation.
The long-term ramifications of your family member’s death may be difficult to quantify. The settlement that the insurance company offered may not even begin to cover the lost income and the value of other services that your relative would have provided if he or she had not passed away suddenly.
In addition, you may be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages related to the loss of your loved one. Non-economic damages can cover the loss of love, affection, support, and companionship that you used to enjoy while your family member was alive. It can be particularly difficult to assign a dollar value to those losses. You may not be able to fathom all the ways that the sudden death of your spouse will affect you or how the loss of a parent will impact your children for the rest of their lives.
Why It May Take a Long Time to Settle a Wrongful Death Claim
An attorney can gather relevant information and figure out a fair amount of compensation, but the insurance company may refuse to pay the amount of money your attorney requests. The two parties can then attempt to negotiate a settlement. Although that is possible in many cases, sometimes the two sides are unable to come to an agreement and the case must go to trial. It may take years to resolve the claim.
Things may be especially difficult if the defendant denies that he or she was liable for your loved one’s death. If that happens, an attorney may have to conduct a lengthy investigation to uncover evidence to support your case. A legal team may have to interview you and numerous witnesses and review medical records and an accident report, if applicable. Depending on the specifics of the case, an attorney may also have to review driving records, cell phone records, personnel records, toxicology reports, and surveillance videos to gather information that can establish that the defendant was liable for your family member’s death.
That process may easily take several months or longer. Once an attorney gathers and reviews all pertinent information and files a lawsuit, the case will have to make its way through the legal system. The entire process may take years.
An Attorney Can Help You Seek Justice
A lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death cases can review the available evidence to figure out what amount of compensation would be fair for your family. Attorneys with Ben Crump Law, PLLC represent clients all over the United States and fight for compensation they deserve. Our team can investigate and gather evidence to prove liability and seek compensation for the wide range of losses you and your family suffered and will continue to endure.
A wrongful death lawyer can advise you on specific state laws that may affect your case. States have different laws on which family members may file a lawsuit and which individuals may sue for compensation. State laws also differ when it comes to statutes of limitations. Survivors and representatives of a deceased person’s estate have different amounts of time to file a lawsuit, depending on the state where the death occurred.
An attorney can explain those issues in more detail and give you legal advice that applies to your specific situation. How long it takes to settle wrongful death claims depends on multiple factors. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 593-3443 to speak with a member of our staff so we can get the process started as soon as possible.