Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawyer
There is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one in an accident. The tragedy can be made all the more gut-wrenching when you find out that the accident could have been prevented if proper precautions had been taken. When this happens, Pennsylvania law allows certain family members of the victim to take legal action to seek compensation for their damages. Of course, while no financial compensation can ever truly make up for the loss of a family member, eligible parties should pursue a wrongful death claim to protect the best interests of themselves and their family. To pursue this type of claim, you need to work with an experienced Norristown wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful Death Claim Eligibility
Unfortunately, not every person that was close to the departed is legally eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one. Indeed, in Pennsylvania, only certain close families members of the victim have a right to bring a legal claim. More specifically, eligible parties include:
- Parents; and
- Relatives who were legal dependents of the deceased.
The Estate Has First Right To Bring A Claim
Additionally, in Pennsylvania, the estate of the deceased is generally responsible for bringing the wrongful death claim on behalf of all of the family members who have legal rights under the statute. However, if after six months, the representative of the estate has not yet initiated a claim, then other eligible parties may step in and bring the claim.
Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim
Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. To be clear, this means that while a claim must be brought within two years of the death, it does not need to be completely resolved within that time period. If you and your family fail to take legal action before the statute of limitations expires, you may lose your legal ability to do so. Do not let this happen to you and your family. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is strictly applied. The best way to protect your legal rights is to get your case into the hands of an experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will ensure that your claim is brought within the mandated time frame.
Proving Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania
To hold another party liable in a wrongful death case, your attorney will need to establish that the other party was ‘at-fault’ for the accident. Generally, fault is established under the theory of negligence. In broad terms, negligence occurs when adequate precautions are not taken. Though, what actually constitutes negligence can vary widely based on the specific circumstances of the case in question. This means that determining whether or not a party was negligent always requires an in-depth review of a case. Four things must be established:
- Duty: First, you must prove that the defendant had a ‘duty’ to look out for the safety of your loved one. The exact extent of the defendant’s duty will always depend on their relationship to the victim. For example, medical professionals, drivers, employers and business owners all owe different duties to different people in different situations.
- Breach: Next, your wrongful death lawyer must prove that the defendant actually breached their duty of care. A breach can also occur in many different ways. A breach could be anything from a doctor failing to request a certain medical test to a driver speeding through a red light.
- Causation: There must also be a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of their duty and your family member’s passing. Establishing a breach is not by itself sufficient to prevail in a wrongful death case. Causation is required.
- Damages: Finally, as with every legal case, damages must be proven. While on the surface level this may seem straightforward, it can actually be one of the most complex steps of the process. To get the full compensation that your family deserves, you must be able to prove the full extent of your damages.
Compensation Available to Qualifying Family Members
The amount of compensation available in a wrongful death lawsuit will always depend on the unique facts of the case. However, as a general rule, immediate family members may seek compensation for the full extent of their economic and noneconomic losses. Indeed, in these cases, many of the available damages are not ‘economic’. Calculating the value of imaging losses can be extremely challenging. This makes it especially important that eligible family members work with an experienced attorney who understands how to establish damages. The compassionate wrongful death lawyers at The Levin Law Firm can help you seek compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Out-of-pocket medical costs;
- Emotional distress and mental anguish;
- Required therapy and psychological counseling;
- Loss of future income or inheritance;
- Loss of love or companionship; and
- Punitive damages.
You May Also Have a Survival Action Claim
Section 8302 of the Pennsylvania Code allows for all legal causes of action to ‘survive’ the death of either the plaintiff or the defendant. This is important because many wrongful death lawsuits should be brought concurrently with a related (but distinct) survival action claim. While a survival action claim is related to wrongful death claim in some ways, it also has important differences. Essentially, this type of lawsuit allows the estate of the deceased to recover damages that the victim could have recovered had they survived the accident. It is always a good practice to speak to your attorney to see if a survival action claim should be pursued in conjunction with your wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
At The Levin Firm, we have extensive experience handling Pennsylvania wrongful death claims. If your loved one was taken in a preventable accident, we can help you seek justice. Wrongful death lawsuits are notoriously complex, let our team help you navigate the legal process so that you can focus on your family. For a free, no-obligation legal consultation, please do not hesitate to call our Norristown office today at (267) 427-2620 or toll free at (877) 825-8542.