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Time Frame for Wrongful Death Cases

Oct. 29, 2019

What Is The General Timeline For A Wrongful Death Case?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years. Attorney David Maran did settle one wrongful death claim in a little over a year for the loss of the mother of two adult children after she was run over and killed by a local DPW truck. The value of that claim was clear because the decedent did not suffer any conscious pain and suffering, and the entirety of the damages was the wrongful death damages. Attorney Maran quickly obtained an Expert Economist who prepared a thorough report which evaluated the losses to the adult children.

There were no wages or money that was going to these children. It was all based on their loss of companionship, loss of guidance and loss of services. Based upon the Economist’s report, the case was settled and once they had a tentative settlement, suit was filed to obtain the Court’s approval of the settlement. A Distribution Hearing was scheduled to allow the Court to consider the position of both adult children and after consideration entered an Order of Distribution and the case was resolved and paid. That case took less than one and half years from the date of the death of their mom which is an extremely fast recovery.

More commonly, you should file suit shortly after the accident occurs, once you have gathered all the evidence that you can, without the defense attorneys slowing down the investigation. You file the case in Court, and you begin the process of litigation. The process of litigation depends largely upon which county you are in and how complicated the case is. If it is a straightforward automobile case, it usually takes about two years from when you file suit to when you get a trial date. The case will resolve either during that time or at trial. In that situation, you may be looking at three years. There are some slower counties, and if you’re dealing with complicated issues of malpractice or of product liability, it may take longer because you have more work to do to establish those cases.

Why Does Someone Need An Attorney To Pursue A Wrongful Death Case?

You can do it on your own, but that is not advised. Wrongful death cases are extremely complicated. You should be choosing an attorney specialist who has done this many times before. First, you must investigate the accident itself, and obtain all the evidence that you can. You must then prove and be able to prove any conscious pain and suffering that the decedent endured if it existed. You must then turn to the damages which were allowed under the wrongful death statute. In order to do that, you need to hire an economist and provide that economist with all of the evidence and information they need to generate a thorough report and you must do all the other things that go into these very complicated cases.

If it’s based upon malpractice, you must comply with all the things that an attorney would be expected to comply with. Some of the things you need to take care of are obtaining medical experts and affidavits of merit, and to take depositions. If it’s a product liability case, you need to hire the right engineers or scientists to examine the machine or product. It must be someone who is willing to write a report and be willing to provide testimony to prove the case. All this is beyond most attorneys and for an individual client to do this, it would be very difficult.

Should Every Heir Or Family Member Or A Loved One Hire Separate Attorneys Or Is One Attorney Enough To Handle Everything?

They are certainly allowed to hire their own attorneys, but it is the attorney for the Administrator or the Executor who is going to be responsible with handling the case. At the end of the case, if there is a settlement offer or even if there is a trial, then that family member may wish to use their own attorney to make sure they are receiving their fair share of what is obtained.

At the time of the Distribution Hearing, the attorney will write to all of the family members, assuming they are adults, or to the child’s guardian if they are children, to tell them that they have the right to review the proposed settlement with their own attorney. The letter will encourage them to do it so that everyone has their own attorney to make sure that the division of the monies is appropriate and proper.

Sometimes, family members do, and sometimes family members don’t, but more often than not, they do hire their own attorneys. The attorneys meet at Court at the time of the distribution hearing and attempt to negotiate and resolve the distribution so that everyone is in agreement when the Court rules.

Read about the Time Frame for Wrongful Death Cases And Getting Help From An Attorney In Wrongful Death Cases or call the office of David Maran Esq. for a FREE Initial Consultation at (973) 622-5303 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.