Although it may be important to you to seek just compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one, you may also feel overwhelmed by the prospect. You probably do not know how a wrongful death lawsuit progresses, how long it takes, or whether or not you will have to go to court. These are significant considerations that may influence your decision. This article is intended to give you a general idea of what to expect.
The first phase of a wrongful death lawsuit is a detailed investigation into the facts of the case. This can be a lengthy process during which your attorney obtains a copy of the defendant’s insurance policy, if there is one; consults experts in medicine, accident reconstruction, etc.; and interviews you and other associates or family members of the decedent.
Your wrongful death lawsuit officially begins when you file a complaint. This is a formal document that factually tells the decedent’s story to the court. Once you file the complaint, the defendant has a duty to respond. One of two responses is possible. If the defendant’s lawyer(s) do not believe the case has merit, they can file a motion to dismiss. Then it is up to the court to decide whether or not to hear the case. Otherwise, the defendant can file an answer responding to your complaint. The defendant has a limited time in which to do this.
Discovery is a process in which each side shares the evidence that they have gathered with the other. This allows each side to determine the strength of the other side’s case and to formulate a courtroom strategy. If the defendant’s attorney(s) feel that your case is strong enough to cast doubt on their ability to gain a favorable result for their client, they may be willing to offer a settlement to avoid the case going to court at all.
Negotiation between you and the defendant, which usually takes place through your respective legal representatives, can take place before you have filed your complaint as well as after. If you are able to negotiate a settlement agreement with the defendant, it may not be necessary for you to go to court at all. However, if you fail to reach a settlement agreement through negotiation and the case does go to court, you will probably be required to attend the trial.
A wrongful death suit can be a lengthy process that takes months or even years to resolve. You should be sure that it is worth the time and expense before you decide to file a complaint. A wrongful death lawyer in Tampa, FL, such as from Jeff Murphy Law, can objectively evaluate your case. Contact a law office for more information or to schedule a consultation.