If a loved one has died because of another person’s wrongful actions, you might be able to bring a wrongful death claim for compensation. But how long do they take to settle?
Unfortunately, there is no set timetable. Remember, any negotiation involves two parties—you and the person who accidentally or intentionally caused your loved one’s death. We can’t guarantee that the other side will agree to settle within a certain amount of time—or agree to settle at all.
Below, we discuss some of the considerations that go into determining the duration of wrongful death cases.
Investigation Takes Time
A person or business only needs to pay compensation if their conduct was in some way wrongful and it contributed to your loved one’s death. Under Georgia law, wrongful conduct can consist of:
- Criminal negligence
- Intentional criminal acts, such as murder
- Manufacturing defective products
In some situations, no one might be to blame for your loved one’s death. For example, if your son ran into traffic while drunk, then he might have died because of his own reckless conduct. You probably can’t hold the driver who struck your loved one responsible.
In some situations, it is clear who is at fault for someone’s death. But when it isn’t clear, each side will need to investigate. Investigation can take a while, and a comprehensive investigation should include:
- Tracking down and questioning witnesses who might have seen the incident that caused your loved one’s death
- Examining medical records to fully understand the cause of death
- Analyzing any police report or insurance claim related to the incident
- Reviewing safety information, if someone died at a business or jobsite
- Searching for CCTV footage that might have captured the incident
We also need to know whether your loved one’s own actions contributed to their demise. Under Georgia law, you can receive compensation in many cases even if your loved one was negligent themselves; however, the amount you will receive will be reduced.
It is hard to estimate how long this investigation could last, since each case is different. But a thorough investigation could take a few months at a minimum, and in some cases will take much longer.
Negotiating a Settlement Adds More Time
Everything would be easy if the at-fault party or their insurer quickly agreed to pay full and fair compensation to our clients in wrongful death cases. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead, insurers would like you to agree to accept as little money as possible. In many cases, our clients are struggling when a loved one dies, particularly when it is the family breadwinner. Bills don’t stop arriving simply because the main income earner has passed, and many clients feel pressure to accept any offer. Insurance companies know this. For that reason, they will typically make a low-ball initial offer and hope you agree to accept it.
At MG Law, our goal is to get as much compensation as possible for our clients. There is no reason why you should have to suffer the financial fallout from the untimely death of your spouse, parent, or child. As a result, we can obtain compensation to cover the wages your loved one would have contributed to your household, as well as expenses for other services.
If our client can reject the initial offer and continue negotiating, they can often receive more in a settlement. And remember—this is your one chance to obtain compensation for your loved one’s death. Once you accept a settlement, you’ll need to sign a form releasing the defendant from any further liability for the death. This means you can’t go into court and sue for more money.
All told, negotiations could take a couple months as well.
Contact a Seasoned Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney for Help Settling a Wrongful Death Case
Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience, and no one wants to think about lawsuits in their time of grief. Nevertheless, it is important to hold the defendant responsible for their conduct. Because the state does not give you an unlimited amount of time to seek compensation, you should reach out to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
At MG Law, we offer compassionate legal representation to those who have lost someone dear to them. We understand how stressful this time can be, and we work carefully with our clients so that they understand how the legal process will play out.
To find out more, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. You can call 770-691-6019 or submit an online form.