Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to shift the financial burden of someone’s death from the surviving family to the person or organization responsible for the death. The law recognizes that it is unfair for grieving family members to have to suffer financially when neither they nor the deceased are to blame. To that end, the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act allows the personal representative of the estate to bring a lawsuit for compensation on behalf of:
- The victim’s spouse
- The victim’s minor children
- Adult children who were dependent on the victim
- The victim’s parents
The law recognizes that the above groups of people are the most financially harmed when someone dies. Furthermore, spouses and children have close emotional bonds with their spouse or parent, relying on them for emotional support and guidance. The law will also compensate survivors for the loss of these relationships. More distant relatives, like siblings or cousins, are not allowed to benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania.
If the personal representative does not file a wrongful death lawsuit within 6 months of the death, then any of the above beneficiaries can bring a lawsuit themselves.
Damages may be awarded for funeral and burial expenses, loss of future income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium (loss of a loved one’s companionship or care), and punitive damages intended to punish the defendant for their negligence.
We know that no amount of money will ever replace or bring back your loved one. But it may help bring your family closure to know that justice has been served against those responsible for your loved one’s wrongful death, and give you the comfort of knowing your family will be provided for well into the future.
What Do You Need To Prove?
A wrongful death claim is called a “derivative” claim, meaning that you basically step into the deceased’s shoes and bring whatever lawsuit they could have brought had they lived. For example, if your loved one was killed by a defective product, they would have been able to bring a product’s liability lawsuit had they lived. Or, if the deceased was killed by someone’s negligence, then they could have brought a negligence lawsuit had they lived.
As the person bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to prove whatever the deceased would have needed to prove. For example, you might need to show that product piece of equipment was dangerous because it had a defect. This defect might be a manufacturing defect or a design defect. Or you might show that the product was defective because the manufacturer didn’t supply sufficient instructions or safety warnings. Once you establish that the product was defective and that it caused your loved one’s death, then the manufacturer is strictly liable for the injuries.
Many wrongful death lawsuits are also brought for “negligence,” which is the legal term for carelessness. On construction job sites, many people are responsible for making the site reasonably safe. If they fail to exercise that reasonable care, and your loved one died as a result, then you can bring your wrongful death claim based on negligence. You’ll need to prove the following four elements:
- Duty: The defendant owed your loved one a duty to exercise reasonable care.
- Breach: The defendant didn’t exercise reasonable care (a breach).
- Damages: Your loved one died.
- Causation: The defendant’s breach of reasonable care caused the death.
For example, the job site owner might not have informed the contractor or the construction crew that the soil on the job site is constantly shifting. If the ground shifts and ends up killing your loved one, then you might be able to sue the premises owner for negligence for failing to inform the necessary parties that the ground was dangerous.
Grieving family members are not required to know who to sue. You weren’t at the accident scene and have no way of knowing the details of what caused your loved one’s death. In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, your sole focus should be on your family’s physical and emotional well-being. Leave the fact-finding to the personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm who can visit the job site and interview witnesses to identify the party responsible for your loved one’s death.
It is important to contact an attorney right away if you have lost a loved one in a construction accident. The nature of a construction site is that it is constantly changing, and it is important that the site is investigated, observed and photographed in the same condition that it was in when the accident occurred. Property owners may try to fix or cover up the dangerous condition that caused the accident, or it may be eliminated on its own as part of the original construction plans. That’s why you need an attorney who will work quickly and efficiently to ensure that you have the strongest case possible so that you can fully recover.
Building a strong wrongful death lawsuit requires skill and expertise that only an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide. For example, if you are suing a product manufacturer for selling a defective dangerous product, you’ll probably need an expert witness who can identify a design or manufacturing defect for the jury. Or if you are arguing that the job site was dangerous due to negligence, you’ll need someone knowledgeable about various safety laws to testify as to how the defendant breached their duty of reasonable care.
Identifying appropriate expert witnesses takes a lot of time and is not something you can do on your own. Good experts must have sufficient knowledge and experience to qualify as expert witnesses, but they also need to be able to describe complicated issues in a way that laypeople can understand. At The Levin Firm, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience building cases with the held of expert witnesses, and we are prepared to help you prove your case in court.
Representing clients in construction site wrongful death actions requires a team of aggressive investigators and compassionate lawyers all devoting their maximum effort to their clients. At The Levin Firm, our Pennsylvania, and New Jersey personal injury attorneys work together with a team of investigators and support staff to investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
Don’t Delay Talking To A Wrongful Death Lawyer
Grieving families need compensation to pay expenses and begin to put their lives back together. As you mourn the loss of your loved one, you might find it difficult to talk with other people or even to leave the house. Nevertheless, you still need to carve out some time to meet with a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney because Pennsylvania law does not give you an unlimited amount of time to sue. Instead, you are only given 2 years from the date of your loved one’s death to start a wrongful death lawsuit in the appropriate court.
If you wait too long, then it is highly likely that you will lose your lawsuit. This means no compensation for you and your loved ones—even if the other party is absolutely at fault for the accident. Make time to pick up the phone or send an email to an experienced wrongful death lawyer so that they can start the legal process right away and protect your rights.
Contact A Wrongful Death Attorney In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Today
If a loved one was killed at a construction job site, you and your family might be entitled to financial compensation. When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has lost a loved one due to a construction site accident, contact The Levin Firm, who represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.
We’ll thoroughly review the factual record to identify the party responsible for your loved one’s death and present a compelling case to the jury. Call us today at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form. The initial consultation is free.
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“I appreciated the time that Gabriel took to listen to my concerns. He and his office staff were always very prompt about returning any phone calls that I had. I feel that Mr. Levin worked very hard to get the best results possible for my accident case. It was a positive experience and I would recommend him to others.” -Kelli M.