Losing a loved one due to another party or another person’s negligence is very painful. Family members of wrongful death victims can choose to press charges against the at-fault party to seek damages. However, they may not be able to control how long it takes between filing their case and trial or a resolution. Wrongful death cases can take anywhere between a few months and some years to get to trial or settle. For families who have lost their loved one(s) to wrongful death, hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer and knowing the factors that influence the case timeline can help help you prepare for the process ahead in your wrongful death lawsuit.
Factors Influencing Wrongful Death Case Timeline
The amount of time it’ll take to settle your wrongful death claim will depend on at least one of the factors discussed below:
Disputes Over the At-Fault Party
In some wrongful death cases, negligence and who is the at-fault party or at-fault parties is not clear. In wrongful death cases, a significant amount of time debating fault is common, i.e. who is at fault for the wrongful death itself or how to divide the liability. The argument and investigation to establish the at-fault party can complicate the entire process and lengthen the time required to pursue a wrongful death claim.
On the other hand, cases wherein fault is clear tends to proceed faster. In such cases, the parties involved understand their liability and may put up no resistance with regards to their part in the negligence which led to the deceased’s death.
Disputes Over the Value of the Damages
Asides from the debate and time taken to establish the at-fault party, the value of damages may be a cause for dispute between the plaintiff and defendant. The plaintiff will obviously want more money in damages while the defendant is interested in spending as little as possible on compensation. The conflict of interest may cause the negotiation to drag on for longer than it should. For example, the plaintiff may wish to recover compensation for all damages, including physical, economic, mental, and emotional damages while the defendant is adamant about offering much less than demanded, such as only the medical expenses incurred before your loved one passed.
Another important aspect is the willingness of the plaintiff and defendant to accept their proportion of faults. Accepting fault in proportions means that both parties are partially liable and damages for the victim’s death are impacted by that proportion.
Whether Disputes can be Settled Out of Court or During Trial
In a wrongful death claims case, the victim’s family has two major options, to negotiate compensation out of court – which is usually faster, or proceed to trial. Negotiating out of court may be faster but are only advised when the right amount is offered in compensation. However, if negotiations break down, the case may proceed to trial where the judge and jury are allowed to decide not only liability, but the amount of damages to be provided.
In some cases, an appeal may be filed by the defendant at the end of the case. This appeal process may halt compensation until a decision has been reached. If the appeal favors the plaintiff, compensation will be awarded.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is like an expiry date set for each case type. Each state has its own statute of limitations for particular cases. In Oklahoma, if your claims case isn’t presented within the statute of limitations, you may be barred for life from obtaining financial compensation. When you consult a wrongful death lawyer, you stand a better chance of knowing the statute of limitations and how other factors can affect the timeline of your wrongful death case.
Your Next Steps
The right wrongful death lawyer can guide you through the complex legal scenes of a wrongful death claim. Trust our attorneys at Cannon & Associates to work closely with you, answer your questions, and represent your interest from the start to the end of your case. Our attorneys won’t charge you a dime until your case has been completed and compensation awarded. Get the legal help you need, complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at (405) 972-8236. for a free, confidential case evaluation from Your Fierce Advocates™.