The Pre-Trial Phases Of A Wrongful Death Claim

Enduring a loved one's death due to an accident is difficult enough, and the thought of dealing with a wrongful death claim can feel even more taxing. With a compassionate personal injury attorney representing the family, they do not have to concern themselves with the legal details. Most of these cases settle before proceeding to court. Learn about the typical phases of a wrongful death claim so you know what to expect. 

Pre-Trial Phases of the Case

Conducting an Investigation

After you hire an attorney, the legal team begins investigating the details of the accident. They interview people who were at the scene as well as persons connected with the deceased individual, including relatives and co-workers.

Expert witnesses may be interviewed as well. They provide insight about who is typically at fault in this type of situation and the strength of the wrongful death claim. An expert witness might be an accident reconstruction professional who specializes in these particular incidents. Medical professionals also are common expert witnesses. 

Performing Legal Research

The legal team pores through previous case history to find those that are most similar to the current case. They evaluate the various points and determine the settlement amount that is most likely to be acquired. Through this research, they learn aspects to avoid that could lead to having the case dismissed by a judge. They learn how to strengthen the evidence in favor of the claim and the arguments for the plaintiff.


The next phase consists of efforts to negotiate with the insurer or the private party for a reasonable settlement. This begins with sending a demand letter and supporting documents.

Negotiations can be lengthy, especially when dealing with a large insurance carrier that has its own lawyers on staff. However, if the liability is relatively obvious, the insurer will want to settle and do so fairly quickly to avoid added expense. 

Filing a Complaint

If the negotiations process breaks down or the defendant refuses to budge, your attorney will file a complaint document with the court. This is the start of the trial process. Negotiations can begin again and continue while further documents are filed to proceed with the case in court or stay it, meaning put it on hold. 

Concluding Thoughts

Understand that most wrongful death claims never go to trial. Both the insurer or private party and the legal teams prefer to avoid going to court. That extends an already lengthy process, and neither side can predict what a jury might decide. You can rely on your attorney to manage all the details and keep you informed of the progress. For more information, contact Norris, Gary G. Attorney or a similar legal professional.