How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take in Illinois?

Wrongful death lawsuits serve to compensate plaintiffs for damages they incurred because of their loved one’s wrongful death. It is natural for plaintiffs in wrongful death cases to question how long their lawsuit will take.

Wrongful death lawsuits can take months to years to complete but may take several years. There is not a standard answer to this question. There are numerous factors that can affect how long your case will take. For instance, your lawsuit may be delayed by disputes from the defendants’ insurers, pending criminal cases, and lengthy settlement negotiations.

If your loved one was killed because of another person’s wrongful act, get help determining how long your case may take. Contact our experienced Chicago wrongful death lawyers by calling the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 for a free case review.

Factors that Affect How Long a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Will Take in Illinois

The process of a wrongful death lawsuit can be long and complicated. Several factors may affect how long your case will take. Plaintiffs can contact our Illinois wrongful death for help determining if any of the following factors may have an impact on their lawsuit:

Disputes from Defendants’ Insurance Companies

Most defendants in wrongful death lawsuits will be represented by insurance companies and defense attorneys. Insurers will often delay cases by refuting various aspects of your claim. Illinois courts follow a modified comparative negligence rule when awarding damages in wrongful death cases. This means that damages are awarded based on percentages of fault. while the defendant is 80% to blame, the defendant will pay for 80% of damages caused by the death while the remaining 20% will go unpaid. If the victim was more than 50% to blame for their death, then their family may not recover damages in a wrongful death claim.

Insurance companies and defense lawyers may hire private investigators to try and shift blame for wrongful death. By assigning blame to someone other than the defendant, insurers may avoid paying the full value of a claim. Therefore, the process of debating fault can severely delay your claim. Our Naperville wrongful death lawyers can expedite your case by fighting insurance companies and proving the defendant was at fault.

A Pending Criminal Case

After a wrongful death, a defendant may also be tried criminally if they broke the law. For example, a drunk driver who causes a wrongful death may face criminal charges in addition to facing a civil wrongful death case filed by the victim’s personal representative.

Usually, our Illinois wrongful death lawyers will wait for a criminal case to finish before proceeding with a civil case. Our team can use a criminal guilty verdict to help bolster our wrongful death claim against the defendant. Unfortunately, criminal lawsuits can also take a long time to complete. Accordingly, your Illinois wrongful death lawsuit may take longer if there is a criminal case pending against the defendant.


In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed, a plaintiff must show that the death at issue was caused by another person’s wrongful act. There are many forms of evidence that can be used to establish this causal link. The following are types of evidence frequently used by our Joilet, IL wrongful death lawyers to prove that a defendant caused a wrongful death:

  • Surveillance footage
  • Accident reports
  • Witness testimony
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Medical records
  • Financial statements
  • Personal recollections

However, the process for collecting such evidence can be difficult. Lengthy depositions must be scheduled in order to obtain crucial witness testimony. Furthermore, parties in charge of crucial documents may be hard to reach or otherwise uncooperative. Our experienced team can help ease your stress by gathering the required evidence and expediting your lawsuit.

Delays in Scheduling Cases

One major factor that can affect how long your Illinois wrongful death lawsuit will take is when your case is scheduled. Courts can get backed up and may be forced to schedule cases far in the future. Some courts may schedule cases months in advance while other courts schedule cases a year out. If your local court is particularly busy, it may take a long time before your case may proceed to trial. Our Illinois personal injury lawyers can help advise clients on whether their lawsuit will be affected by delays in scheduling cases.

Settlement Negotiations

Furthermore, settlement negotiations can have a major impact on the length of time it takes your case to conclude. A settlement agreement is a sort of legal contract that ensures a defendant will pay an agreed-upon amount to a plaintiff in exchange for their lawsuit being voluntarily dismissed. By settling early, plaintiffs can complete their case and receive compensation more quickly. If plaintiffs do not settle, they must undergo the long ordeal of trying their case.

While getting paid quicker is enticing, settling early is not always the right decision. Not all settlement offers are fair. Insurance adjusters want to settle case as for as little money as possible. This may lead to lengthy settlement negotiations that do not end in an agreement.

Plaintiffs that do not receive a fair settlement offer may take their case to trial to obtain additional compensation. By going to trial, plaintiffs will greatly extend the length of time it takes to complete their lawsuit. However, in some cases, that may be the only way for plaintiffs to recover fair compensation.

Calculating Damages

Lastly, the time it takes to calculate damages can affect how long your wrongful death lawsuit takes in Illinois. In some cases, damages may be straightforward to calculate. In others, the calculations may be complex. In that case, multiple expert witnesses may be required to establish the cost of things like lost earning capacity. Moreover, non-economic damages such as the loss of companionship and intimacy with your loved one can be difficult to quantify, and proving those damages might require a list of witnesses as well. Our Aurora personal injury lawyers can help explain the process for calculating damages in your case.

If Your Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death in Illinois, Our Lawyers Can Help

If your loved one was killed because of another person’s wrongful act, seek assistance from our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers by calling the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 for a free case review.