In many physical systems there is a time delay before an applied input (stimulation) has an impact on the output (response), and the quantification of this delay is of paramount interest. If the response can only be observed on top of an indistinguishable background signal, the estimation can be highly unreliable, unless the background signal is accounted for in the analysis. In fact, if the background signal is ignored, however small it is compared to the response and however large the delay is, the estimate of the time delay will go to zero for any reasonable estimator when increasing the number of observations. Here we propose a unified concept of response latency identification in event data corrupted by a background signal. It is done in the context of information transfer within a neural system, more specifically on spike trains from single neurons. The estimators are compared on simulated data and the most suitable for specific situations are recommended.