How Long Does It Take To Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be among the most stressful and difficult experiences for a person. These types of lawsuits involve highly sensitive and emotional issues and can make it tough to grieve the passing of a loved one properly. Given the sensitive nature of these lawsuits, it’s important to retain an experienced wrongful death attorney to guide you through this process.
Since wrongful death lawsuits can sometimes take a long period of time to settle, having a strong attorney will allow you to focus on mourning and not worry about the legal process. The experienced wrongful death lawyers at Bernstein & Maryanoff take pride in helping families get through these difficult times and ensure every client receives maximum compensation for their wrongful death case.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
If you have recently lost a loved one and believe it resulted from negligence, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff for a free consultation today.
Wrongful death lawsuit timeline
Before bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, it can be helpful to understand the timeline of these cases so you know how to best brace yourself for the process, especially given the emotional turmoil that often comes with these types of cases. While there are many factors to take into consideration that may impact the timeline of any lawsuit, the standard timeline you can anticipate for a wrongful death case is as follows:
1. Establishing if you have a case
First and foremost, you must be able to establish whether you have a triable lawsuit on your hands. You may do this by speaking with an experienced wrongful death attorney. By scheduling a free consultation with a member of the legal team at Bernstein and Maryanoff, you will learn whether your case meets the required elements for establishing wrongful death. If it’s clear your case meets these elements, you can move ahead and retain a lawyer to begin working officially.
2. Opening a probate estate
Before you may bring a wrongful death case, it’s mandatory to first establish the estate, as an estate is required to pursue such a claim. The probate process can appear intimidating for anyone unfamiliar with the process, and that’s where an experienced lawyer can help you out. The attorneys at Bernstein and Maryanoff can help guide you through this process to ensure you have properly opened a probate estate and can move forward with the wrongful death case.
3. Determining the damages you are seeking
When you lose a loved one, you may be able to seek compensation for any losses that may have been incurred as a result of their death; these losses are referred to as “damages.” Common damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
The discovery process in any lawsuit is the timeframe in which both parties may work on gathering evidence for their case. During this time, each party may request records from one another, such as medical records, employment records, bank statements, and more. The discovery process also allows each side the opportunity to question one another and any witnesses in depositions. The information obtained during discovery is crucial for a party’s success in establishing their claims and building a successful lawsuit.
5. Settlement or trial
Once discovery has come to a close, the parties begin working on settlement negotiations. Depending on the complexity of the claims and the severity of the issue at hand, it may be impossible for a settlement to be reached. When a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. An experienced wrongful death attorney will be able to guide you through the trial process and will be sure to adamantly fight for your rights in front of the judge and jury.
In some cases, despite the conclusion of the lawsuit, the plaintiff may appeal the decision should they disagree with the outcome. Since this process can be quite tedious, it’s important to discuss with your wrongful death attorney whether your case will likely succeed should you decide to appeal.
Factors that affect the timeline
It’s important to understand that some factors may affect the timeline of your case. These factors include:
Florida’s statute of limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years beginning from the date of death. This means that if you do not file a wrongful death lawsuit within this time frame, you will be barred from filing your lawsuit entirely.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit
Despite the two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Florida, there are some exceptions to this rule, including medical malpractice cases. This is because family members can fail to realize that the death of their loved one was the result of medical malpractice. In these situations, the statute of limitations will be altered to where the two-year period begins starting at the date of discovery of the medical negligence.
The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff can help you determine whether your claim falls within one of the exceptions to the statute of limitations.
The discovery process
In many cases, the discovery process can take an unprecedented amount of time. There are many factors that can cause significant delays in discovery, including the opposing party’s willingness or ability to provide the requested documents. Sometimes necessary documents may be difficult to obtain, causing the case to be backed up during the wait.
Negotiations can take quite a long time to reach a favorable settlement for both parties. Given the emotional issues behind a wrongful death case and what are likely severe damages, it can be difficult for both parties to come to a fair agreement with one another. Despite how experienced your attorney may be, there is no telling what may come up during this part of a wrongful death suit.
Since the appeals process begins at the conclusion of the lawsuit, it’s unsurprising that this can add a significant amount of time to the overall process. Many factors must be considered when determining what to expect in an appeals process, and the attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff can help guide you through them.
Why do wrongful death settlements take longer than personal injury settlements?
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when settling both wrongful death cases and personal injury cases. These factors can significantly impact the time it takes for a settlement to be reached. However, one big factor to consider in wrongful death cases is that the injured person is deceased and is, therefore, incapable of providing any testimony or discovery to help establish their claim. Additionally, waiting for the probate process is another reason wrongful death cases may take longer than personal injury cases.
How are wrongful death settlements paid?
Typically, wrongful death settlements are paid through a check issued to you and your attorney in a lump sum. However, it’s possible for the settlement to also be structured so that a portion of the settlement is placed into a trust, with funds scheduled to be distributed at set intervals until the trustee has reached a certain age.
It’s important to understand that certain fees, such as legal fees, medical bills, funeral expenses, and other outstanding debts incurred during the case, will be paid and deducted from your overall settlement amount. Further, in situations with multiple beneficiaries, the court will approve the amount of funds distributed to each party per Florida law.
How much is a wrongful death settlement worth?
In Florida, wrongful death lawsuits do not have a cap on the amount that can be sued for in these cases. Due to the loss of life, wrongful death settlements and verdicts can range from the high tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. The specific circumstances surrounding your case will significantly determine the amount you are entitled to receive. During your initial consultation, your attorney will inform you how much you may be compensated based on your claims and their expert opinion.
Factors into wrongful death compensation
Many factors must be considered when determining the compensation amount for a wrongful death settlement. Some of the most common factors that will likely be taken into consideration for the compensation of your wrongful death claim include:
- Last medical bills of the victim
- Final expenses
- Future financial aid the victim could have provided
- Future household services the decedent could have provided
- Age and health of the victim
- Surviving family members’ needs
- Elements of fault
How long does it take to get your money after settling a wrongful death lawsuit?
Once a settlement has been reached, it can take approximately four to six weeks to receive your settlement payout.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Contact the wrongful death attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff for a free legal consultation today.
How can a wrongful death attorney help me?
Given the complexities and emotional stress that comes along with losing a loved one, retaining a wrongful death attorney will allow you to focus on grieving while they handle the legal process. A wrongful death attorney can also ensure you are properly compensated for the loss of your loved one. If you have further questions or want to find out if you can file a wrongful death claim, do not hesitate to contact one of our accidental death lawyers in Miami at Bernstein & Maryanoff.
Goguen, D. Wrongful Death Lawsuit Damages.