The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 22,000 people in the United States lost their lives in fatal auto accidents in 2012 alone. This means that an estimated 60 Americans died every day in traffic-related accidents. The risk of fatalities is so high because auto accidents have the potential to cause several different kinds of catastrophic injuries that often result in death. Such injuries include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, severe skull or head trauma, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, and much more. Even with emergency trauma treatment, many accident victims do not survive these catastrophic injuries.
Normally, if car accident victims suffer injuries due to the negligence of another, they have the right to recover for their losses from the responsible party by filing a personal injury claim. A deceased person is unable to file a lawsuit, however, so Pennsylvania state law provides other methods of holding any negligent parties responsible after a fatal auto accident. At the Levin Firm, we have a thorough understanding of these laws and are committed to helping surviving family members recover following a Philadelphia fatal car accident.
When a victim of an auto accident suddenly and tragically dies from their injuries, surviving loved ones are left not only with unexpected financial burdens, but also with substantial emotional and intangible losses. Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute allows certain family members to file a legal claim against the responsible party in order to recover for financial and emotional losses. These family members are limited to the following:
Such surviving loved ones can recover for expenses for any medical treatment prior to the death, funeral and burial costs, estate administration costs, and any other qualifying financial losses related to the death. Additionally, Pennsylvania courts decided in 2010 that family members could also be awarded compensation for their psychological and emotional losses in a wrongful death case. Since the psychological and emotional effects of suddenly losing a child, parent, or spouse is difficult to quantify, the courts opened the door for potentially large wrongful death awards to surviving families.
In addition to a wrongful death claim, Pennsylvania law allows the administrator of the deceased victim’s estate to bring a survival action. In such a survival action, the estate may recover the damages that the victim would have been able to recover had he or she survived the auto accident.
In order to recover in a wrongful death claim or survival action, plaintiffs have to make the same showing the victims would have to make in a personal injury claim had they lived—that another party was negligent in causing the accident and injuries. There are numerous ways that negligence can lead to a fatal car accident, including the following:
Identifying the correct cause of the accident is highly important to ensure that the wrongful death claim is filed against the correct negligent party. An experienced Philadelphia attorney will know how to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident in order to identify negligence and gather evidence to help you prove your claim.
After a tragic loss, you are likely dealing with enough emotional and logistical stress already and bringing a legal claim may seem daunting, time-consuming, and intimidating. However, if you have lost a loved one in a fatal auto accident, there are many ways that an experienced auto accident lawyer can make the legal process as stress-free as possible for you.
First, an attorney will determine whether a wrongful death claim, survival action, or both are appropriate in your situation. An attorney will have the resources necessary to investigate the accident, identify negligent parties, and build a strong case to prove that the victim’s death was wrongful. Furthermore, a lawyer will know how to accurately calculate your damages—both financial and intangible—in order to help ensure that you receive the maximum possible compensation for your tragic losses. Finally, an attorney will know all relevant court procedures and will ensure your case is being properly handled with minimal stress on your part.
If you have lost a loved one in a Philadelphia fatal auto accident, do not hesitate to contact the Levin Firm at 877-825-8542 for a free consultation today.
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