Wrongful death lawsuits can vary in length, ranging from months to years. If you’re wondering how long a wrongful death lawsuit can take, here is an explanation of the factors that may be involved and how they can affect the process.
The timeline for a wrongful death lawsuit can vary. That’s because wrongful death lawsuits are typically initiated by the deceased person’s family. Because of this, they play out much differently than personal injury cases.
Another reason for the varying length is how dependent these types of lawsuits are on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing. For example, if the death was caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence, it could take some time to prove their culpability in court.
What if the individual is found responsible?
If it is found that the accused individual is responsible for the wrongful death, the court or jury will determine what damages should be awarded to the family. When calculating damages, the judge or jury will consider all of the following factors:
- The physical condition of the victim
- The age of the victim
- The earning capacity of the victim
- The estimated years remaining in the victim’s life
- How much the victim contributed to their family
It is important to note that a variety of other factors could be weighed in addition to those listed above. However, many of these factors depend on the nature of the situation and can be difficult to predict in a clean and concise manner.
Initiating a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit usually begins when the deceased’s family members or representatives contact an attorney who specializes in wrongful death lawsuits.
Once retained, the attorney will help the family navigate the process of initiating a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes identifying the liable party, filing the lawsuit, and assessing damages.
Probate and Damages
Following the death of the victim, the victim’s estate must go through probate. If the deceased did not have a will, the process can be more complicated. This is due to the fact that the court will now have to decide how to divvy up their property and assets.
On the other hand, if the deceased did have a will, then the assets will be allotted in accordance with their wishes. This speeds up the probate process and ensures that the property of the deceased reaches its intended recipients.
When seeking damages, your attorney will calculate the deceased’s expenses, including mental and physical anguish and medical bills, as well as the expenses and anguish the surviving family members have suffered as a result of the victim’s death. Damages for the surviving family members can include all of the following:
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Victim’s loss of earning capacity
- Loss of support
- Extraneous services
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
As you can guess, the most extensive damages are those incurred by the surviving family. This is one reason why wrongful death lawsuits can become complicated and often take longer than personal injury lawsuits.
Need representation? Contact Hunt Law
If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence, recklessness, or any other action that resulted in the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. To get a better idea of what options are available to you, contact Hunt Law today.
With nearly two decades of servicing the Northern New Mexico region in cases involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and personal injury, Hunt Law has a nuanced understanding of applicable laws and will work diligently to advocate on your behalf. Don’t spend another minute wondering what to do — contact us today.