Wrongful Death Attorneys in Philadelphia
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Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences a person can have in life, especially if the death did not need to happen. When someone else’s carelessness leads to the death of a loved one, you may be able to bring a claim against the responsible parties. The lawyers at Rosen Justice can help you navigate the complicated wrongful death process with compassion and professionalism.
What Is Wrongful Death in Philadelphia?
In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death claim may exist when a person’s death occurs as the result of another person or entity’s negligent or intentional action. Wrongful death is a cause of action that can be filed in civil court against the negligent party.
Common examples of wrongful death claims include:
- Negligence-based accidents like vehicle accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Defective products, and
- Intentional acts that cause harm.
In some cases, the act that caused the wrongful death may have been criminal in nature. In this case, the at-fault party may also face separate charges in criminal court.
The two types of cases are separate but may be filed at the same time. Your wrongful death attorney can advise you further on the differences.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, and you may be wondering if your situation applies to this type of legal action.
Understanding the three basic elements that make up wrongful death is important. If all of these things are present, it is very likely that you have a valid claim.
- A person died;
- Their death was the result of an intentional or negligent act; and
- You personally suffered damages as a result of their death.
The more proof you have of these elements, the stronger your case will be. Your wrongful death attorney can help you walk through the facts of your case and determine if the negligent party had a legal duty to act in a way that could have prevented the death of your loved one and what evidence is necessary.
The ability of you and your attorney to prove the liability of the person or party you are bringing the claim against is also crucial. Make sure to keep a detailed record of any important dates, conversations, medical records, witnesses, or other relevant information surrounding the death of your loved one.
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Law
Pennsylvania law provides two ways to recover damages against those responsible. The first is a wrongful death lawsuit which compensates family members for the losses they suffer as a result of losing the deceased person. Damages can be recovered for:
- The loss of companionship and affection, and for a spouse, the loss of a sexual relationship;
- Loss of financial support and contribution to the family. This includes things like payments for household bills, medical care, and food. It can also include things like child care, cooking, and similar home making activities.
The second way to recover damages is a survival action lawsuit. A survival action seeks damages for things that the deceased person could have sued for if they were still alive. This includes things like:
- Lost wages,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Medical bills.
How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Take?
There is no standard to define exactly how long a wrongful death case will take. Some cases take only a few months, while others stretch for years. Many factors determine the timing from the initial claim to the point of reaching a fair settlement agreement or jury verdict. Understanding the process of filing a wrongful death claim may give you a better perspective on what to expect.
Like most personal injury cases, a wrongful death claim will begin as an insurance claim filed against the negligent party. It is essential to know that you do not have to accept an unfair settlement. Insurance companies often count on injury victims needing funds to pay for expenses, making them more likely to accept a low offer. Your wrongful death attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Calculate the Value of Your Claim
Knowing how much your claim is worth is crucial to receiving a fair settlement. This will help you avoid accepting an unfair settlement. It is best to have your wrongful death attorney help you. They will need to spend some time discussing your relationship with the deceased, including the impact of their emotional support and financial contributions.
Accept, Counteroffer, or Sue
Once you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, there are several options on how to proceed. If you and your wrongful death attorney decide that the settlement is fair, you can accept and collect your check.
If the offer is less than what you are owed, you can negotiate or counteroffer. If you are still unable to reach a fair settlement, you may have the option to file a lawsuit against the negligent party and bring your case before a jury.
How Much Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?
There is no clear way to define the average wrongful death settlement because every case is unique. The nature of your relationship with the deceased, their financial contributions, expenses, and the circumstances surrounding their death will influence the compensation you can receive.
Who you hold liable may also contribute to your compensation. For example, if your loved one was hit by a commercial truck driver, the trucking company may share liability for the accident. Having thorough and experienced legal representation may also impact your ability to receive a favorable wrongful death settlement.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Statistics in Pennsylvania
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report unintentional injury deaths as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Unintentional injury deaths accounted for over 224,900 fatalities nationally in 2021, and 10,327 deaths specifically in Pennsylvania.
There is no way to track precisely how many wrongful death lawsuits have been filed, but here are some interesting numbers surrounding the type of cases that often involve wrongful death.
- There were 1,460 Pennsylvania medical malpractice filings in the 2020-2021 recording year;
- Traffic deaths increased in Pennsylvania from 1,129 in 2020 to 1,230 in 2021;
- Of the vehicle fatalities in 2021, 311 deaths were attributed to drunk drivers; and
- Fatal work-related injuries in Pennsylvania totaled 162 in 2021, with most injuries coming from transportation incidents, trips and falls, contact with equipment, and exposure to harmful substances.
Though we do not know how many of these instances resulted in wrongful death lawsuits, it is fair to say that the types of accidents that often lead to legal action are not uncommon in the state.
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How Long After a Death Can I Sue?
In Pennsylvania, there is a two year statute of limitations for these types of claims, so it is imperative to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Two years may seem like sufficient time, but it passes quickly when you are grieving.
It is important to note that over time, it can become more difficult to retrieve evidence and track down witnesses, so the sooner you can start the process, the better chance you have of making a strong case for the justice and compensation you are entitled to.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death and Survival Actions?
Any family member or beneficiary named in a will (if there is one), including non-family members, can recover damages in a survival action lawsuit. However, only a spouse, children, or parents are eligible to recover financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages recovered through the wrongful death claim are distributed to the legal beneficiaries in proportion to what they would take from the personal estate of the deceased in the case of intestacy and without liability to creditors of the deceased.
How to Find a Wrongful Death Attorney
If you are looking for competent, experienced personal injury attorneys who are relentless in the courtroom, we are taking cases now. We welcome you to reach out to our team to talk about your case. Our nationally recognized team proudly serves Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, and Montgomery County. Get to know us and get answers to your questions.
Time deadlines apply, so don’t wait to contact us. We’re ready to help you get the financial compensation that you deserve. Contact us today.