What Are the Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a relative passes away, it is always a challenging experience. You’ll likely experience sadness and pain during this time, especially when the death was caused by the negligence or actions of someone else. As you’re mourning your loss, you’ll also have to file a wrongful death claim to ensure that your family is properly compensated.

It’s important to know the right steps to take during your wrongful death lawsuit. You also need to know what your rights are as the family of the deceased. Working with a lawyer will help you understand that is required of you in the next few weeks, days, or months.

Getting Ready for Litigation

Preparing for your lawsuit is known as pre-litigation. This is when you or the relative you’ve designated as the personal representative for the victim will have to complete several tasks to get ready to file the lawsuit. This may mean the representative has to:

Set Up the Estate

If the deceased’s estate will file the lawsuit, the suit has to be set up in the court of the county where the victim lived.


This is the phase where any investigation into the details and facts surrounding the death of the victim should be conducted. The investigation is often overseen by a lawyer and the assistance of experts who are necessary to gather all relevant evidence.

Identifying and Communicating With Responsible Parties

The lawyer for the deceased’s estate will have to pinpoint the parties who are liable for the victim’s death and notify the responsible party that the lawsuit will be filed.

Negotiations and Settling the Case

This step doesn’t happen for every case. But for many cases, the party you want to file the lawsuit against will likely want to settle out of court. This may be a viable option since it does away with the risk of losing the suit, and you’ll still be able to get a fair settlement.

If you can’t reach an agreement at this step, you still have the right to proceed with the wrongful death lawsuit. The attorney will take care of most of the negotiations, and will get in touch with you to discuss important decisions that need to be made concerning your case.

Filing Your Lawsuit

If the negotiations with the at-fault party are not successful, you’ll have to proceed with filing the wrongful death lawsuit. You’ll have to file a Complaint or Writ of Summons first, which is processed through your county’s courthouse.

All the defendants named in the case will receive a summons.

Going Through Litigation

The litigation portion of the lawsuit includes several tasks, such as the discovery phase, questioning, and document requests. Litigation is also the part of the lawsuit where the pre-trial, trial, and arbitration occur.

During the litigation phase, your attorney can continue negotiations with the at-fault party to try and reach a settlement both parties are satisfied with.

If the lawyer can reach a negotiation with the defendant, the litigation will continue until the end of the trial. After the trial, the jury or judge will issue a verdict. Your settlement ward will be based on this verdict.

If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death you may be eligible for compensation

You’ll need a qualified lawyer to help you through the wrongful death lawsuit process. An attorney can explain legal terms and requirements in a way you can understand and give you time to fill out any necessary documents in light of the fact that you’re still going through the bereavement process.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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