Bucks County Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one as the result of a catastrophic accident can be shocking. When you are coping with a family member’s death, and aren’t sure what will happen next or what steps you should take, our experienced Feasterville, PA wrongful death attorneys at The Levin Firm encourage you to schedule a free consultation with our law offices. We will guide you through your legal options, and explain the process of filing a wrongful death action to recover compensation for your losses.
What Is a Wrongful Death Action?
A wrongful death action is a type of civil action that may be brought forth when the wrongful act, neglect, or unlawful violence of one party leads to the death of another. The type of action is very similar to a standard personal injury action, with the main differences being fatal injuries and the plaintiff. In a wrongful death action, plaintiffs must prove that a duty of care existed between the decedent and the defendant, that the defendant breached this duty of care, and that the decedent would not have suffered fatal injuries but for this breach. Plaintiffs must also prove that they have incurred damages as a result.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Action and Survival Action?
Under Pennsylvania Code Section 8302, a survival action is described as a cause of action that survives “the death of the plaintiff or of the defendant.” For example, if a person was injured due to the negligence of another, and brought forth a personal injury action against that person but died before the claim was concluded, a survival action will continue. As such, a survival action will yield damages that the plaintiff would have been able to recover but for death; a wrongful death seeks damages suffered by the surviving family members of the deceased, not the deceased themselves.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action, and What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
Only certain parties are legally allowed to bring forth a wrongful death action for damages in Pennsylvania. Per Pennsylvania wrongful death laws, found in Section 8301(b), the right of action exists only for certain beneficiaries, namely the:
- Children; or
- Parents of the deceased.
If there is no spouse, children, or parents, then the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death action for the purpose of recovering damages to pay for medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and administrative costs incurred by the estate as a result of death.
For beneficiaries, damages in a wrongful death action that may be sought include:
- Special damages. Special damages include compensation for hospital and medical costs incurred by the deceased prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, and any other costs associated with death.
- Other economic damages. Other economic damages that plaintiffs may seek include the value of the deceased’s lost wages, benefits, and earning capacity, as well as any other types of financial support that the deceased would have provided to the family but for death.
- Noneconomic damages. Beneficiaries may also seek compensation for the value of their noneconomic losses, such as the value of loss of consortium, loss of parental guidance, loss of companionship, and loss of household services.
While punitive damages, which are damages that are designed to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff(s), are not typically permitted in Pennsylvania, they may be awarded in the event of outrageous conduct.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Actions?
A wrongful death action is governed by the same statute of limitations as personal injury actions: two years from the cause of action. This means that you may not bring forth a wrongful death suit more than two years from the date of your loved one’s death. If you wait longer than two years, you will not be able to recover compensation. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death, not two years from the initial date of injury.
Why Should I Work with a Feasterville, PA Wrongful Death Attorney?
More than anything, wrongful death cases are often very emotional; hashing through the details of your loved one’s death can bring up painful memories, and can be very hard to do. When combined with the complexities of navigating the law, filing a wrongful death claim can be an overwhelming process for many.
When you work with our compassionate Feasterville, PA wrongful death attorneys at The Levin Firm, you will be working with legal professionals who truly care about what you are going through. We know how hard this is for you, and will do everything we can to make pursuing a claim as straightforward and stress-free as possible. We do all the heavy lifting when it comes to a wrongful death action, starting with opening our own investigation into the cause of death, and hiring investigative experts to help us acquire the evidence necessary to build a strong claim. We will also handle filing your wrongful death action, proving damages, and negotiating for a damages amount. When necessary, we will be prepared to file a lawsuit and litigate for you. Our goal is to maximize the amount of compensation that you receive.
Contact Us Today
Losing a loved one is difficult for a number of reasons, ranging from the emotional to the financial. When you feel like the world has turned against you and you are on your own, our lawyers are here by your side.
A consultation with our law offices is always free, and we never charge unless your case is successful. To schedule your case review today, please call our offices directly at 215-825-5183, or use our online form to send us a message and tell us a little bit about your case.