Because all cases for wrongful death claims are different, it would be difficult to predict how long it would take to settle a claim. Most claims can be settled out of court and can be done fairly quickly, while others may take considerably longer to settle. In the following, we will discuss what a wrongful death lawsuit is and what can be recovered through a claim. We will also discuss negotiating with the insurance company and why some claims are taken to court and take much longer than simpler claims to settle.
Over the 24 years that David Azizi has practiced personal injury law, he has helped many Angelinos. His compassion, dedication and legal acumen have helped him win 98 percent of his cases. Phone him today to find out why Super Lawyers, the legal-ranking firm, consistently calls him one of Los Angeles’ best personal injury lawyers.
Qualifying for Wrongful Death Compensation
When a member of the family is lost suddenly in an accident, it can leave the family looking for answers and feeling lost, especially if the loved one died because of someone else’s negligence. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the family continues grieving but can obtain some sense of justice and peace by knowing that the negligent person or entity is being held accountable. The spouse and immediate members of the family can join together to recover damages with the help of an experienced lawyer.
Filing for Wrongful Death
Once an investigation by the attorney and authorities has determined that the loved one suffered a wrongful death, the filing doesn’t take long. After the claim is filed, the process of negotiation begins. The lawyer will negotiate and act as a mediator between the insurance company and family members to reach an agreeable amount of damages to be paid. Compensation can include medical costs through a survival action if the deceased person was treated before their death. It can also include the following:
- Wages the decedent would have earned if they had lived
- Loss of inheritance
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium, which is awarded to the spouse
- Loss of companionship, affection, moral support and protection
- Household services
- Punitive damages are allowed, if relevant, under a survival action
How Are Monies Paid Out?
Monies that are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are generally given as a lump sum. However, they may be disbursed to the family in increments, depending on the accident details and settlement amount.
Research and Investigation
Once the attorney is hired, they will investigate the accident and gather evidence that supports the wrongful death claim. This can include talking to you as well as relatives and other associates of the deceased person. The lawyer may require the opinions of medical experts or accident reconstruction. If an automobile insurance policy was held by the decedent, the attorney has to notify the carrier of that policy and ask for a copy. This is so the lawyer can study what provisions are in the policy since this can affect the outcome.
Once the lawyer knows exactly what is in the policy, which is often lengthy, he or she can begin negotiating on the client’s behalf with the insurance company. If problems do not arise such as the insurance company refusing to pay a fair settlement, the claim can be resolved fairly quickly. However, in some cases, problems do arise because the insurance company refuses to budge on the amount it is offering or finds a reason to deny the claim. In those cases, the wrongful death claim may have to go to court.
Problems in Negotiating a Settlement
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so they are interested in settling a claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. Once the claim is signed off on, the claimant can no longer come back for more money. Having a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the insurance industry is valuable in obtaining the compensation the family deserves and needs to go on.
Taking a Wrongful Death Case to Court
While the vast majority of wrongful death claims are settled with the insurance company, in some cases, negotiations fail and the claim must be taken to court. Going to court can take a much longer period of time, and most of that work is done on a computer before it is presented in the courtroom. This pre-trial process involves an examination of the evidence and witness statements, the involvement of expert witnesses and more. This portion of the wrongful death case can make the difference in it being allowed in court or not.
Scheduling the Trial
Scheduling the trial may take months because court dockets tend to already be scheduled far into the future. Once the trial begins, it may be concluded in a few days or weeks, depending on its complexity. In complex cases where punitive damages are involved, a case may drag on for several years or longer.
Free Case Review with a Wrongful Death Lawyer
David Azizi knows the grief and pain a family faces when a loved one is lost and how it is compounded when that person died due to someone else’s negligence. Along with their grief, they often feel a need for justice for their loved ones. Filing a claim for wrongful death or a survival action lets the party who caused the death of their loved one know that there is a price to pay for their negligence. Call David at (800) 991-5292 to schedule your free case review to start the process. He can also be contacted online.