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Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer

Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorney

When a family member has passed away due to the negligence or misconduct of another, the grief and confusion following his or her death can be overwhelming. In such difficult times, having the dependable Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers from the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm by your side is crucial. We have extensive experience in filing personal injury lawsuits including wrongful death lawsuits. As such, we are experienced Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys who understand the intricacies of the law and are committed to helping you seek justice and compensation for your immense loss.

Our expertise and compassionate approach will guide you through the legal process, aiming to bring family members some measure of peace and closure. If you believe you have a wrongful death lawsuit, contact us for a free consultation from a wrongful death attorney to learn about your rights under Pennsylvania law.

Wrongful Death Settlement

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act

The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act is a crucial piece of legislation that allows the family members of a deceased person to seek compensation when their loved one’s death results from someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. Under this act, eligible beneficiaries can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages such as funeral and burial costs, hospital and medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, and the loss of companionship and support.

This legal provision is designed to compensate family members or estate representatives for the financial and emotional impact resulting from the untimely death of a loved one. If you believe you have an action for a wrongful death claim, seek a free wrongful death consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm.

Statute of Limitations Under Pennsylvania Law

Pennsylvania law imposes a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, generally requiring that the personal representative of the deceased file the lawsuit within two years from the date of the decedent’s wrongful death. Navigating these legal waters can be complex, and working with an experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer can help ensure that your rights are fully protected.

Understanding Survival Actions in Pennsylvania

A survival action in Pennsylvania is a unique legal concept that complements wrongful death claims. While wrongful death claims are designed to compensate the bereaved family members for their own losses, a survival action seeks damages for the pain, suffering, and losses the deceased person incurred from the moment of their personal injury until the time of their wrongful death. Essentially, it is a continuation of a personal injury claim that the deceased could have pursued had they survived.

The damages recoverable in a survival action personal injury case may include medical expenses for personal injuries incurred prior to death, the deceased’s lost wages, and compensation for their pain and suffering. Any compensation awarded through a survival action is considered part of the deceased’s estate and, as such, is distributed according to their will or the state laws of intestacy if there is no will.

Survival actions and wrongful death claims often proceed simultaneously in Pennsylvania, but it’s crucial to understand their distinct purposes and the unique types of damages they seek to recover. Engaging with the services of the Philadelphia wrongful death action attorneys at the PhillyLaw law firm can help ensure that both claims are effectively coordinated and pursued to maximize the compensation for the estate and the family members left behind.

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How to Prove a Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania

Proving negligence in a wrongful death case in Pennsylvania involves demonstrating several key elements. Your Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys will need to establish the four elements of negligence to prove a wrongful death claim.

Duty

The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This means that the person at fault had a responsibility to avoid causing harm.

Breach of Duty

The defendant breached this duty through action or inaction. The concept of breach of duty plays a pivotal role in wrongful death cases, referencing a failure to uphold the standard of care owed to the deceased. This can manifest in various forms, such as negligence in driving, failure to provide safe working conditions, or lack of proper medical care. For instance, if a driver fails to adhere to traffic laws resulting in a fatal accident, this could constitute a breach of duty. Similarly, if an employer neglects workplace safety regulations leading to a fatal accident, this too may be seen as a breach of duty. Establishing this breach requires demonstrating that the defendant’s actions deviated from what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

Causation

The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the wrongful death of your loved one.

Wrongful Death Damages

There were actual damages as a result of the death, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of income and consortium.

Proving these elements requires substantial evidence and a thorough understanding of Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statutes. An experienced Philadelphia wrongful death attorney will play a pivotal role in gathering the necessary evidence, which may include witness statements, medical records, accident reports, and expert testimonies. With a deep understanding of Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statutes and a compassionate approach, the Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm are committed to fighting for the justice and compensation that you and your family deserve.

Will I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit rests largely on the specific circumstances surrounding your case and your goals for seeking justice. While not every wrongful death claim necessarily leads to a lawsuit, initiating legal action may become necessary if a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations with the responsible party or their insurance company. It is also possible that a wrongful death lawsuit is the best course of action to fully uncover the facts of the case or to seek a public acknowledgment of fault. An experienced wrongful death attorney at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm will hold your hand throughout your wrongful death claim so that you understand if and when it will be necessary to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

A wrongful death attorney plays a vital role in assisting families during one of the most challenging times of their lives. These legal experts bring invaluable support in several key areas to ensure families receive the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve. Contact the Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at the PhillyLaw law firm for a free consultation to learn more about your options.

Expertise in Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death lawyers are personal injury attorneys who possess specialized knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania. They understand the intricacies of proving negligence and can navigate complex legal proceedings, ensuring that your claim on behalf of your family member’s death meets all necessary legal standards.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

An experienced wrongful death lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. This involves collecting and analyzing evidence, such as accident reports, surveillance footage, witness statements, and medical records, which are crucial to building a compelling case.

Calculating Damages

Determining the full extent of damages in a wrongful death claim can be complex. Your Philadelphia wrongful death attorney will assess not only the immediate financial losses, such as funeral expenses and medical bills, but also longer-term impacts, including loss of income and benefits, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. This comprehensive calculation ensures that families seek an appropriate level of compensation.

Negotiation with Insurance Companies

Wrongful death attorneys are adept at negotiating with insurance companies. They use their expertise and evidence gathered to argue for a fair wrongful death settlement, countering any attempts by insurance companies to undervalue or deny legitimate claims.

Litigation Support

If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney at the PhillyLaw law firm is prepared to take your case to trial. We will represent your interests in court, presenting evidence and arguments clearly and persuasively to achieve a favorable outcome.

In essence, the wrongful death lawyers at PhillyLaw will act as a guide, advocate, and support system throughout the legal process. They take on the burden of the legal proceedings, allowing families to focus on healing. At the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm, our compassionate and experienced wrongful death lawyers are dedicated to providing the highest level of service and achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

In the state of Pennsylvania, the right to file a wrongful death claim is specifically designated to certain members of the deceased’s family or their estate. Primarily, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, often appointed in the will, is responsible for filing the claim as personal representative. This action is taken on behalf of the beneficiaries, which typically include the deceased’s immediate family members such as spouses, children, and sometimes parents. It is these beneficiaries who are entitled to receive any compensation awarded as a result of the wrongful death claim.

Pennsylvania law aims to protect these individuals, acknowledging their emotional and financial suffering due to the loss of their loved one. Understanding who is eligible to file can be complex, and engaging with the Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm can provide clarity on these matters, ensuring that the rights of the deceased’s loved ones are duly represented and protected.

What if the Wrongful Death Victim Did Not Have a Will?

When the deceased individual has not left a will, the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit can seem even more daunting. In such cases, Pennsylvania law follows the intestacy rules, which dictate how the estate and any subsequent claims, including wrongful death, are managed. Typically, the court will appoint an administrator, often a close family member, to act as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This administrator then has the legal authority to file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries.

The distribution of any wrongful death damages awarded from wrongful death lawsuits follows the intestacy succession laws of Pennsylvania, primarily benefiting the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents in a predefined order. Navigating the complexities of wrongful death claims without a will requires an in-depth understanding of both wrongful death and estate laws. Working with the experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers from PhillyLaw can ensure that the process is handled correctly, with a keen eye on protecting the interests and rights of the deceased’s loved ones.

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Common Causes of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases can originate from a variety of circumstances, with each wrongful act marked by the negligence or intentional actions of another. Among the most common causes of wrongful death that lead families to seek legal recourse are:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents are a leading cause of wrongful deaths. These incidents often occur due to reckless driving, drunk driving, speeding, or failure to obey traffic laws and can cause fatal injuries.

Medical Malpractice or Medical Negligence

When healthcare professionals fail to provide an acceptable standard of care, resulting in a patient’s personal injury leading to his or her death, families might have a claim for wrongful death. Common instances of medical malpractice or medical negligence include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, and neglect.

Workplace Accidents

Fatal accidents can happen in any workplace but are particularly prevalent in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and mining. Employers’ failure to uphold safety standards or provide proper training can lead to wrongful death claims.

Product Liability

Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers might be held liable if a defective or unsafe product leads to an individual’s wrongful death. Common product liability claims involve defective medical devices, dangerous pharmaceuticals, faulty vehicles, and toxic food products.

Criminal Acts

Incidents of unlawful violence or other criminal activities that result in wrongful death may also lead to a wrongful death lawsuit, even if the perpetrator is being prosecuted in criminal court.

Premises Liability

Property owners have a duty to ensure their premises are safe. Fatalities caused by inadequate maintenance, such as slip and fall accidents or structural failures, can lead to wrongful death claims.

Understanding the specific cause of your loved one’s death is crucial in determining the appropriate legal strategy for wrongful death claims. The experienced wrongful death lawyers at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm are adept at investigating wrongful death cases, identifying the responsible parties, and navigating the complexities of the legal system to help you achieve the justice and compensation you deserve.

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Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When you make the decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the legal process begins to unfold in several stages, guided by your Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer.

Filing a Complaint

Your wrongful death attorney will initiate the wrongful death lawsuit by filing a complaint in court, which outlines your claim against the defendant and specifies the damages you are seeking in your wrongful death lawsuit. This complaint officially initiates the wrongful death lawsuit and the court will issue a summons to notify the defendant of the legal action against them.

Discovery Phase

Following this, the discovery phase begins, where both parties exchange information relevant to the case. This may include documents, witness testimonies, and any other evidence that could influence the outcome of the trial. It’s a crucial period for your wrongful death attorney to gather as much supportive evidence as possible to build a strong case for your wrongful death claim.

Negotiations often occur during or after the discovery phase. Many wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court if both parties can agree on a fair compensation amount. Your Philadelphia wrongful death attorney will represent you in these negotiations, striving to secure a settlement that covers your financial and emotional losses.

Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial. During the trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. After considering the presented facts, the judge or jury will make a final decision regarding the defendant’s liability and the compensation amount, if any, that they must pay to the plaintiff.

The legal process for a wrongful death lawsuit can be lengthy and emotionally challenging. Nevertheless, with the support and guidance of an experienced Philadelphia wrongful death attorney from the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm, you can navigate this complex process while focusing on healing and moving forward with your life.

Steps to Take if You Believe You Have a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania

If you suspect that a loved one’s death in Pennsylvania constitutes a wrongful death, it is important to take systematic steps to protect your rights and interests. These steps can help ensure that you are in a strong position to seek justice and compensation:

Seek an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Given the complexities of wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania, consulting with an experienced Philadelphia wrongful death attorney is a crucial first step. An attorney can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your legal rights and the merits of your potential Philadelphia wrongful death case.

Gather Evidence

Begin collecting any evidence related to your loved one’s death. This can include medical records, police or accident reports, witness statements, and any communication with involved parties. Your wrongful death lawyer will guide you through this process to ensure all relevant evidence is preserved.

File a Police Report (if applicable)

For certain wrongful death scenarios, such as those involving criminal acts, ensure a police report has been filed. This can be vital evidence for your wrongful death claim.

Identify the Estate’s Executor or Administrator

If not already determined, identify who will serve as the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. This individual will typically file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate and the deceased’s beneficiaries.

Document Financial and Emotional Losses

Start documenting the financial impact of your loved one’s wrongful death, including funeral and burial expenses, lost income, medical bills prior to death, and other expenses. Emotional losses, while more challenging to quantify, are also significant and will be considered in your wrongful death claim.

Avoid Negotiating with Insurance Companies on Your Own

Insurance companies may attempt to settle quickly and for less than the wrongful death claim is worth. It’s advisable to direct any communication from insurance companies to your attorney, who can negotiate on your behalf.

File Your Claim Within the Statutory Deadline

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is generally two years from the date of death. It’s essential to file your Philadelphia wrongful death claim within this time frame to avoid losing your right to compensation.

By meticulously following these steps and working closely with your wrongful death attorney, you can effectively pursue a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm are here to support and guide you through this challenging process, striving to secure the justice and compensation you and your family deserve.

wrongful death elements

Wrongful Death Damages

Damages in a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania are awarded to compensate the deceased’s survivors for their losses. These damages can be extensive and cover a range of economic and non-economic losses.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are tangible losses that have a specific monetary value such as medical and funeral expenses. In wrongful death cases, financial compensation may include:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs for any medical treatment the deceased received due to the injury before their death.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses: These expenses are reimbursed up to a reasonable amount.
  • Lost Wages and Benefits: Compensation for the income the deceased would have earned had they lived, including potential future earnings and benefits.
  • Loss of Services: The estimated value of the services that the deceased would have provided, such as household chores, childcare, and other domestic tasks.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages cover intangible losses and may not have a direct financial value. These can include:

  • Pain and Suffering of the Deceased: Compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased may have experienced due to the injury before death.
  • Loss of Companionship: Compensation for the loss of love, society, and comfort that the survivors will miss due to the death.
  • Loss of Consortium: For the surviving spouse, this pertains to the loss of the marital relationship benefits, including affection and sexual relations.
  • Mental and Emotional Anguish: Compensation for the psychological impact on the survivors due to the wrongful death.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, if the conduct that led to the wrongful death was particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages might be awarded. These damages are not meant to compensate the survivor but rather to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.

It’s important to note that these damages can vary significantly from case to case. The specific circumstances of the wrongful death, the relationship between the survivors and the deceased, and many other factors can influence the types and amounts of damages awarded. An experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer from the PhillyLaw personal injury law firm can help evaluate the potential damages in your specific case, ensuring that the compensation you pursue reflects the full extent of your losses.

Evaluating the Value of Your Wrongful Death Case

Determining the precise value of a wrongful death case in Pennsylvania is complex and influenced by numerous factors. The Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys are essential in calculating an accurate estimate based on the specifics of your situation. These are some of the primary elements that can affect the value of your wrongful death claim:

  • The Age and Health of the Deceased: Generally, younger individuals with longer expected lifespans may result in higher compensation for lost wages and benefits.
  • The Deceased’s Earnings: The current and potential future income of the deceased plays a significant role in determining economic damages.
  • Relationship to the Deceased: The closer the familial relationship to the deceased, the more substantial the compensation might be for non-economic damages like loss of companionship and mental anguish.
  • Dependents: The presence of dependents who relied financially on the deceased can significantly increase the value of the claim.
  • Medical and Funeral Costs: The total cost of medical treatment prior to death and funeral expenses are reimbursed and factored into the claim.
  • Pain and Suffering: If the deceased suffered before death, compensation might be awarded for their pain and suffering, potentially increasing the case’s value.

It’s important to remember that each wrongful death case is unique, with its own set of circumstances that can affect the overall valuation. A detailed examination by the skilled wrongful death attorneys at PhillyLaw can help you understand the potential worth of your claim and guide you through the process of securing just compensation for your loss.

The Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyers are Here for You

At PhillyLaw, we understand the profound impact a loved one’s wrongful death can have on families. It is a time filled with grief, confusion, and often, the daunting prospect of seeking justice. That’s why we’re committed to offering compassionate legal support during these challenging times. To ensure that financial considerations do not stand in the way of seeking justice for your loved one, PhillyLaw offers a free consultation for those affected by wrongful death. If a loved one has died due to the negligence or wrongdoing of others, please know that the Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at PhillyLaw are here for you.