How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

One of the hardest experiences to deal with in life is the death of a loved one. After losing someone close to you, you may find yourself facing many challenges in addition to grieving. 

In the case of an unexpected death, there may be more to deal with than normal. Perhaps the circumstances have you considering whether to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, you may be wondering, How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take? That depends on several factors in the case including whether your case even makes it to trial. An attorney experienced in handling wrongful death lawsuits can explain everything you need to know about the timeline of your wrongful death case. 

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

One of the first questions people ask is, What is the statute of limitations on wrongful death? It is important to note that California law requires plaintiffs to file wrongful death claims no later than two years after the victim’s death. The court rarely makes exceptions to this rule. Although the victim may not pass away immediately following the incident, the statute remains in effect. Ideally an attorney would have already filed a personal injury case to recover for the victim prior to the two year statute of limitation. If a personal injury case is filed and the victim subsequently passes away, it can be converted to a survival action in California. The victim’s family may simultaneously proceed with a claim for wrongful death. The two claims may be consolidated later at trial, if necessary. If you have concerns about missing your deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, contact a The Larsen Firm Accident Attorney today for assistance.

How Long Does It Take to Settle Wrongful Death Claims?

Wrongful death claims are complex with multiple factors at play affecting the case and how long it takes to settle.


Wrongful death claims are usually high in value. This is why the amount of damages is one of the main points of contention for wrongful death cases. It is understandably difficult to discuss numbers when valuing the life of a loved one. We are here to take that burden from you. 

The negotiations period for wrongful death cases can get dragged out in an attempt for the liable party to pay the smallest amount possible for damages. At some point, clients often begin wondering, How long does a lawsuit take to settle? Negotiation is an ongoing process but typically leads to some form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution. 

If the parties do not reach a settlement, the case proceeds to trial. However, before considering entering into settlement negotiations, you may need to complete the discovery process so that your attorney can negotiate a fair settlement amount. After obtaining all necessary evidence and reviewing witness statements, your attorneys will have a better idea of the value of your case and can proceed to settlement. 

Disputed Findings

Wrongful death cases typically involve questions of fact that both parties must investigate. Parties may enlist the assistance of experts for their professional opinion on a factual issue in the case. If one party obtains an expert that makes unfavorable findings for the other party’s case, a dispute arises. Likewise, if one party plans on introducing evidence unfavorable to the other party, the opposing party will contest the use of that evidence. This entire process can add weeks or months to the length of the case. 

Settlement Offers

The average family paid about $7,360 in 2020 for funeral and burial costs alone. Mounting bills, whether medical or funeral, may make offers to settle your wrongful death case seem appealing. 

Insurance companies are aware that funeral costs and medical bills are often too high for the average family to handle without assistance or prior planning. Most adjusters will start off by offering you an amount well below what your case is worth in anticipation of negotiation. They may also try to entice you to make statements that may shift liability away from the insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies use these to pressure you into prematurely settling your case. 

An experienced attorney knows better than to take the first settlement offer from an insurance company or any other liable party. Additionally, your attorney may be able to help negotiate any outstanding medical bills. 

Before You Consider Settling

If you are on a tight budget and considering settling as a result, consider whether the decedent:

  • Had life insurance to cover the costs of funeral or medical bills;
  • Had any assets or financial resources that will not require probate like payable on death accounts; or
  • Is eligible to receive any government benefits after death. 

Considering alternative burial options for your family member may alleviate the pressure to hastily settle your claim. Regardless, a The Larsen Firm Accident Attorney can help you understand the benefits of settling or proceeding to trial. 

Preparing for Litigation

Although litigation may seem intimidating to some clients, our attorneys are ready to take your case to court if necessary. From the moment we begin working on your case, we are preparing to take your case to trial if settlement offers are unfavorable. Sometimes the liable party refuses to negotiate a higher offer for their own reasons. That does not mean that you should accept an amount lower than what you are owed.  

Our Team of California Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help

At The Larsen Firm, we are highly experienced California attorneys ready to take on your case. Our attorneys have the expertise that you need to have a successful case. Our wrongful death cases have amassed award amounts for tens of millions of dollars for our clients. For over 40 years, we have been in the business of doing the hard work, investigation, and research that it takes to win those large awards. We want to make sure that our clients are put at ease knowing that we are on the case. Contact The Larsen Firm today so that we can get started on your claim. 

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