When you can expect to get paid from a wrongful death claim in Los Angeles depends on many circumstances of your case and the approach you take to seeking financial recovery. Some straightforward cases take only months, while others can last years. Typically, the longer a claim takes to settle, the longer you will have to wait to receive your payout.
Initially, filing a claim involves determining liability in your case. In order to prove that the at-fault party holds liability for the injury that took the life of your loved one, you must demonstrate that their actions or failure to act constitute negligence. Factors of legal negligence include:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Generally speaking, people have a duty of care to those around them, meaning they have an obligation to act in a manner that prevents others from suffering harm. When they fail to do this, they breach their duty, which can cause the injury of another person and lead them and their families to suffer financial losses as a result.
A lawyer can help you establish fault so that you can file a wrongful death claim against the liable party, decide on the appropriate steps to take to avoid delays, and fight for the fair resolution of your case.
The Type of Process You Choose for Pursuing a Settlement
The process of seeking financial awards plays a significant role in getting paid for a wrongful death claim. In many cases, the parties involved will attempt to settle out of court to avoid the time, expense, and stress of a trial.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles offers several types of Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR), which give the plaintiff and defendant the opportunity to attempt a fair settlement outside of a courtroom and without the formalities of a jury trial.
- Negotiation: The parties or their legal teams discuss the case in person, online, or over the phone and try to come to a fair conclusion.
- Mediation: An unbiased third party, known as a mediator, listens to both sides, helps each side evaluate the arguments, and works with them to try to come up with a compromise. Mediators do not settle cases, but they encourage the parties to do so themselves.
- Arbitration: Like a trial but outside of a courtroom, arbitration involves the presentation of both sides and the decision of a neutral party. Binding arbitration makes the arbitrator’s decision final, while parties can decide against non-binding arbitration.
If ADR programs do not result in a fair settlement or you decide that a trial best suits your case, you can take your case in front of a jury.
The Trial Option
According to the Journal of the American Judges Association, about 97% of civil cases settle without a trial.
However, if you cannot settle for an adequate amount, a lawyer may suggest taking your case to trial. Even though the process may take longer, you may have an increased chance of achieving fair compensation than if you settled for less than you feel like you deserve in an ADR program.
While many families of victims choose to pursue jury trials only after other settlement processes fail to yield results, others choose to take their case to trial right away. This often occurs if they desire public proceedings or the safeguards associated with strict trial processes.
The length of time your trial will take varies based on factors such as the extent of financial damages and comparative negligence, in which both parties hold partial responsibility for the incident that caused the death. In California, even if the defendant has a lesser percentage of liability, you may still pursue financial recovery for your loved one’s wrongful death. A lawyer can help you through this process and pursue fair compensation on your behalf.
After the Determination of a Settlement Amount
Once you have either resolved your dispute out of court or the trial has determined that you should receive an award amount, you or a lawyer must draft release documents to send to the insurance company or other entity that will provide you with the compensation.
Before you can collect the payment, however, you must settle the debts you incurred as a result of your loved one’s passing, such as medical bills and funeral costs. You will also provide compensation to your lawyer, whose contract will have laid out each expense so that you will not have any surprise fees.
At this point, you can collect your financial award, which you may split with other heirs, depending on their involvement in the case. If you have one, an attorney can help you tie up these loose ends and ensure fair and adequate distribution among all parties.
Hire a Lawyer for Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim
While a lawyer cannot determine exactly when you can expect to get paid from your wrongful death claim in Los Angeles, they can help you through the entire process or processes required to seek adequate compensation and work to avoid potential delays in your case. If you suffered the death of a loved one as the result of another person’s negligence, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 223-5115 to discuss your case with our legal team.