How long a wrongful death case takes to resolve depends on many factors. Before a claim or lawsuit can proceed, an estate representative must be appointed to represent the estate of the person who died and later, upon settlement of the claim or case, a court must approve the settlement. For cases against a doctor or a hospital, experts are required to participate in the review and prosecution of the case. Cases that have complex issues involving how the accident occurred and multiple parties can also impact the progress and length of a case. On the other hand, more straight forward cases where fault or negligence is clear generally move forward more quickly. If a case proceeds to trial, it is not unusual for even the most straight forward cases to take at least two years.
Following a settlement or verdict, the estate representative, through a wrongful death lawyer, must then submit documents to Surrogate Court to approve the settlement and distribution of the proceeds. That process can take several months to complete.