Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
A lawsuit for the death of a loved one is likely something you want to get behind you quickly. There may be opportunities to settle your case and end it more quickly, but these opportunities do not always result in complete compensation and may leave your family struggling. It is important to have an attorney represent you in this process to ensure that you get the full benefits you are entitled to to help you and your family after a family member dies in an accident. Fayetteville wrongful death lawyer Ken Kieklak may be able to help you with your case and advise you on whether or not to accept a settlement offer for wrongful death. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can also help you understand how long your case will take.
How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take in AR?
The processes involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit starts with filing the case, then gathering and exchanging evidence before the trial starts. The trial itself is often one of the quickest parts of the case and will usually take no more than a week. However, for serious, complex cases like pharmaceutical litigation or medical malpractice cases, the trial itself could go on for 7-10 business days. These other two steps, filing and “discovery” (evidence exchange), can each take many months to complete.
When you file your initial claim with the court, you must also serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint. After this, the defendant has a chance to argue against the claim as a matter of law. Usually, their filings with the court will state that the claim you made should be dismissed for various reasons, often arguing that they did nothing wrong or that the facts you alleged favor them. Courts often cannot decide the case at this stage, and the case progresses. However, this process may sharpen or clarify the specific accusations of misconduct or negligence that led to the death in question.
Once the case is in the discovery phase, each side will send the other interrogatories and requests for evidence. In injury and wrongful death cases, this usually means performing and submitting to depositions. In cases where you were not involved with the accident, such as most wrongful death cases, the defense may not have any questions to ask you about the incident itself. Still, you could be asked to answer questions about the effects your loved one’s death had on you regarding financial burdens and costs.
Because depositions can take time to schedule and you must give important witnesses the time they need to prepare, these can actually be the largest time requirement in any case. Most depositions last for a few hours, but detailed depositions could actually take multiple meetings over the course of a few days. These depositions are vital to getting the information you need for trial.
Is Settling a Lawsuit Faster than Trial?
In an attempt to save the time and effort of going to trial, many injury victims and their families settle their cases. When you settle a lawsuit, you accept whatever offer the defendant or their insurance company makes in exchange for dropping the claim. Cases can be settled “in court” or “out of court,” and may be settled at any point in the process. However, this does not always mean that the outcome is as high as it would be at trial, and some settlements can still take nearly as long as trial
A settlement can take place before the case is filed in the first place. When this happens, settlement offers are usually low and may not cover your full needs. Because you have not had time to investigate the claim or fully attempt to enforce your rights in court, lawyers usually advise against taking these early offers. In any case, you should have your attorney review the offer to see if it satisfies your needs.
Once the case is in progress, you may have a better idea of what evidence is available and how difficult it will be to prove your case. If your case is difficult to prove, a settlement might be necessary to ensure that you walk away with at least something. This means waiting until you are already in the process of exchanging evidence in discovery – or until you have already completed discovery.
Judges often push parties to try to negotiate a settlement, since settlement saves the court time and resources by skipping the trial process. Settlements overseen by a judge often occur any time up until the first day of trial, and some settlements may occur while the trial is in progress.
At the very latest, you may actually be able to settle a case while the jury is deliberating on the case, or even after the jury has handed down a verdict.
Because it takes time to get the information you need to make an informed decision about your settlement, settlements do not always happen quickly or simply. They are not always the “easy way out” of a case or a quick route to recovery, and you should never settle a case without speaking to a lawyer first.
Fayetteville Wrongful Death Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If a family member was killed in a car accident, died from a traumatic brain injury, or passed away because of another serious accident, call Fayetteville personal injury Ken Kieklak today. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call (479) 251-7767 today.
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