How Long Will My Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

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A wrongful death lawyer works on a lawsuit in his North Carolina office.According to Forbes, a wrongful death occurs when a person or entity fails to fulfill a legal duty and causes a death to occur. When this happens, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by certain surviving family members or by a personal representative from the estate of the deceased.

The length of time a wrongful death lawsuit takes depends on the specific circumstances of the case. They can range from a few months to several years, especially when there are multiple defendants involved. 

What Are the Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There are many factors about your case that are completely unique to your situation, and they directly affect your chances of winning your lawsuit. The unexpected loss of your family member is a tragic event that can leave the surviving family devastated emotionally and financially.

When that death was caused by a wrongful act or the negligence of someone else, you may have questions about your eligibility for a wrongful death case and what is involved. 

Having a firm understanding of the legal process surrounding a wrongful death claim is crucial for your chances of winning your lawsuit. Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters have over 65 years of combined legal experience to put into your case and procure a win.

Should I Accept an Offer From the Insurance Company to End My Lawsuit Quickly?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a settlement offer is an offer of money or property by one of the people or organizations involved in a legal argument in an attempt to end the argument without having to go to court. An early offer is tempting, especially if your loved one’s death left you struggling financially, either because of unexpected expenses or because of the lost income.

Many families hope for a quick settlement to end the legal process so they can move on with their lives. However, early settlement offers from insurance companies are often low and may not cover all of your expenses.

Insurance companies are businesses that need to protect themselves in order to function. Insurance adjusters will try to pay out as little as possible while making you believe that the amount is the most you are able to receive.

Most people do not have any experience with wrongful death cases, insurance companies, or making legal claims. They do not know how much their case is truly worth and may believe that the offer from the insurance company is fair.

It may be years before they realize that the amount they accepted was not enough to compensate them for all of their losses, but they would have lost their right to pursue additional compensation.

Calculating the financial impact of your loved one’s death is difficult. You will have to consider more than just the initial expenses from the funeral and any medical bills.

The lost income from your family member, along with the value of the services that person would have provided had the incident not occurred, must also be accounted for.

You are also entitled to receive compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of losing your loved one. These non-economic damages may include the loss of guidance, support, affection, love, companionship, and future happiness.

Assigning a monetary value to such losses is difficult. The unexpected and sudden death of a parent or spouse will impact the surviving spouse and children for the rest of their lives. 

Why It May Take a Long Time to Settle a Wrongful Death Claim

Your wrongful death attorney will collect all the necessary information and consult with an economist to determine a fair amount of compensation. The insurance company may still refuse to pay the requested amount of compensation, so the lawyer will begin negotiations until an agreement is made.

Many cases end at this stage as long as the insurance company and the plaintiff both agree to the settlement amount. When an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. Going to court may take years to resolve the lawsuit.

Wrongful death lawsuits will also take more time if the defendant does not accept responsibility for your family member’s death. Your lawyer would have to conduct a lengthy investigation into your case to collect every possible piece of evidence to support your claim and prove that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death.

Multiple witnesses would have to be interviewed by a legal team, and any medical records and police reports would be reviewed. The evidence needed depends on the circumstances of the case, but it may include any of the following examples:

  • Toxicology reports 
  • Surveillance video 
  • Driving records 
  • Personnel records 
  • Cell phone records 
  • Receipts 

Gathering all this evidence from multiple sources can take more than several months. After the lawyer has collected and examined all the evidence, the lawsuit will be filed, and the case will proceed to make its way through the legal system.

It may take years to complete the entire process. 

An Attorney Can Help You Seek Justice

An experienced wrongful death attorney will help you determine a fair amount of compensation for your family’s losses. The lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson have over 65 years of combined legal experience and fight aggressively to get your family the compensation you deserve.

We investigate and collect the evidence necessary to prove the liability of the defendants. We will also calculate and diligently pursue compensation for the devastating losses your family has suffered.

Wrongful death attorneys will also give you advice about any North Carolina laws that may have an impact on your case. Different states have different laws about important matters, such as who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and how long they have to file the claim.

Wrongful death attorneys provide relevant legal advice and explain the different elements of your specific case. These factors will also affect the length of time it takes to settle your wrongful death case.

Speak with an experienced North Carolina wrongful death attorney at Tatum & Atkinson at (800) LAW-0804 right away so we can begin the process for your situation. 

Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Your loved one’s death must have been caused by negligence, an intentional act, or recklessness, and you must prove this in order to win the wrongful death lawsuit. The party responsible for causing the death is typically an individual but may also be a corporation, government agency, or some other entity. 

What Are the Four Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?

The four elements required to prove liability in a wrongful death claim are as follows:

  1. The defendant owed your family member a duty of care 
  2. The defendant breached that duty of care 
  3. The breach of care caused the accident 
  4. Your family member’s death caused you damages 

Duty of Care

Your family member must have been owed a duty of care from the defendant. The duty of care generally means that someone must refrain from causing harm to another person.

For example, when someone drives a car on a public road, they owe a duty of care to everyone else sharing that road and must, therefore, drive safely and abide by the rules of the road. Your lawyer must prove that the defendant was obligated to keep your family member safe. 

Breached Duty of Care

Once the duty of care has been established, the lawyer must then prove that the defendant did not uphold the duty owed to the victim. For example, the defendant may have been speeding or failed to stop at a red traffic light. 

The Breach of Care Caused the Accident 

Every wrongful death case is different. There are countless scenarios, circumstances, and situations that may have caused a single accident.

The lawyer must be able to prove that the breach of duty is what caused the accident. For example, if the defendant was speeding and collided with the victim, the lawyer must prove that the excessive speed was to blame for causing the accident.

They can do this by proving that the accident would not have occurred had the defendant been driving at a safe and legal speed using expert witnesses and evidence of stopping distances and reaction times. This is where the lawyer will need as much proof as possible and evidence to back up the claims. 

The Victim’s Death Caused Damages to Your Family 

You must have suffered damages from the loss of your loved one. These damages may include:

  • Funeral Expenses 
  • Medical Bills 
  • Lost Income
  • Emotional Distress 
  • Loss of Services 

After these four elements have been established, the wrongful death attorney must present evidence of damages for which compensation is being pursued.

Your wrongful death attorney will help you by investigating your family member’s accident to determine fault and proof of negligence. Your lawyer will also consult with an economist to determine the full amount of compensation that you will be able to pursue. 

People without legal knowledge and experience in investigating accidents will find proving their case very difficult. The North Carolina wrongful death attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson know how to build a strong case and will get you the compensation that you are entitled to receive. 

Factors That May Affect Your Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The most crucial factor in a wrongful death lawsuit is proving liability, but there are other important factors as well. These other factors may include the following:

  • Evidence: Gathering as much evidence as possible is critical to a successful lawsuit. The strength of this evidence can be a deciding factor in your case and may include medical records, witness statements, and testimonies from experts. 
  • Jurisdiction: Different states have different legal procedures and laws that may have a significant impact on your case. 
  • Statute of Limitations: Missing the deadline established by your state can prevent you from pursuing legal action. 
  • Jury Selection: If your case is not settled and goes to trial, the jury that is selected will impact your outcome. For a successful trial, the jury should be sympathetic to your case and favor your case over that of the defendant. 
  • Damages: Your chances of winning are affected by the amount and type of compensation you are seeking. It is typically more difficult to convince a jury to award a higher amount, so you will need strong proof of these damages. 
  • Defendant’s resources: The defendant’s ability to defend themselves against litigation also impacts the results of your case. A skilled legal team and a large budget will create a strong defense against your claims. 
  • Attorney Experience: The skills and experience of your own attorney will make a difference in the outcome of your case. You should choose an attorney with a strong history of winning wrongful death cases. 
  • Settlement Offers: The defendant will often make settlement offers at different points throughout the legal process. These offers should be considered with care and decided upon against the possible outcome of a trial. 

Contact Our North Carolina Wrongful Death Law Firm Today

If someone you love has been tragically killed in a wrongful death accident in North Carolina, contact the Heavy Hitters at Tatum & Atkinson as soon as possible. We will represent your family to make sure that you get the best possible outcome from your wrongful death case.

Call (800) LAW-0804 today for a free consultation.