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How Long Does A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

May 17, 2022

In 2016, a young woman sadly took her own life while attending a college in Philadelphia. Approximately two years later, her parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school, alleging that she was denied mental health counseling and assistance she had requested. Recently, that lawsuit was settled, four years after the case was filed with the court.

The story is tragic. It also highlights just how long a wrongful death lawsuit can take. No one can predict the exact timeline of a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if you need to file a claim, understanding the process can provide a guideline for how long it may take.

The Investigation

It is important to speak to a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer as soon as you know you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Prior to filing, an attorney will have to conduct an investigation and collect evidence to prove your case. Sometimes, the investigation happens very quickly, such as when there was a fatal car accident detailed in a police report. In other cases though, such as medical malpractice, investigating a wrongful death claim can take much longer.


The discovery phase of a lawsuit is very important. It allows each side to request information from the other party. There is no way to determine how long the discovery process will take but the more complex the facts of a case, the longer the discovery phase is.

Pretrial Motions

As their name suggests, pre-trial motions occur before a trial begins. During a pretrial motion, attorneys for both sides can make certain arguments. The lawyer for the defendant may make arguments for why the case should be dismissed, while the lawyer for the plaintiff may make a pre-trial motion about obtaining evidence. These are just two examples of pre-trial motions. The more motions that are made, the longer a case will take.

Calculating Damages

Calculating the exact amount of damages you pursue in your wrongful death claim can also take some time. Some damages are easy to calculate, such as funeral and burial expenses. Others though, such as one’s future earning capacity, are not always so easy. An attorney may have to work with experts, such as economists and vocational professionals, which can result in the lawsuit taking more time.

Settlement vs. Trial

A settlement can occur any time after the lawsuit is filed. Cases that settle out of court typically do not take as long as those that go to trial. Still, you should never settle a case just to get the process over with. Sometimes, going to trial is necessary to obtain the full damages you deserve. When that is the case, going to trial is worth the additional time this process takes.

Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Philadelphia Can Handle All Aspects of Your Claim

No one can determine how long a wrongful death case will take. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers will handle every aspect of your claim so it proceeds as quickly and smoothly as possible. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.



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