What is Considered a Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
The unexpected sudden death of a loved one can be a traumatic experience for the surviving family. The situation gets worse when such a death was due to the negligent acts of another person. The entire situation can place you in a state of fear and isolation. At The Reiff Law Firm, we understand the traumatic circumstances surrounding a wrongful death case. We know what it takes to hold the responsible party accountable for your loss.
If you lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, we may be able to help. Our experienced legal team can help review your case and identify the appropriate route to compensation.
Seek support from our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 709-6940 for a free evaluation of your potential case.
What is Wrongful Death?
The term “wrongful death” refers to when a person gets killed because of the wrongful actions of another person. It also applies to death caused by the negligent acts and misconduct of another person. For instance, wrongful death can be caused by a reckless driver whose negligent actions lead to the death of another driver in a car accident.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania
The wrongful death of a loved one can happen for different reasons. Common lawsuits for wrongful death in Pennsylvania include the following:
Some jobs are indeed riskier than others. Construction work is an example of jobs where employees are at higher risk of experiencing life-threatening injuries. For instance, construction workers are at higher risk of suffering a severe injury due to the nature of their career. Despite the implementation of safety measures to prevent construction injuries, accidents keep happening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falling accidents are the leading cause of construction-related injuries and death. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “an average of two construction workers dies each day in the United States.”
Most work-related accidents that lead to injury or death are preventable. However, the lack of safety measures, proper training, and negligence from employers may lead to unjustifiable deaths that can result in wrongful death actions and lawsuits.
Whenever a person buys a product, he or she expects the product to be safe for use. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, manufacturers rush production or make mistakes in the design which can lead to defects in the product. Additionally, many manufacturers skip the testing phase of a product before launching it to the market.
In many cases, defects in a product lead to personal injury or wrongful death. Manufacturers have the responsibility to make sure their products are safe for consumers. If they do not, they may be liable for any injuries their product may cause. Examples of wrongful death caused by defective products include deaths from defective prescription drugs, vehicle parts, consumer products, and more.
Nursing Home Negligence
When you entrust the safety of your loved ones to a nursing home, you expect they will be treated with dignity and respect. As a matter of fact, you might be led to believe you have no reason to worry about your loved one’s well-being. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes work the same way. Some nursing homes abuse senior citizens by assaulting or neglecting them.
When you go to the doctor, you are trusting they are prepared, knowledgeable, and skilled. In other words, you expect to be treated safely and with care. However, medical negligence happens more often than people realize. A study published online by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) stated that medical errors in the United States cause more than 250,000 deaths every year. This places medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the entire nation. Wrongful death caused by medical mistakes include deaths from misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, birth injuries and many more types of medical negligence.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Car accidents happen every day for numerous reasons. The outcome of a car collision is always unpleasant. However, things are worse when you lose a loved one because of the negligent actions of another driver. Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through.
Many causes may lead to a car- or truck-related wrongful death. Typical causes of possible wrongful death car accidents include accidents caused by drugged driving, improper vehicle maintenance, reckless driving, and speeding.
The types of wrongful death lawsuits mentioned above do not provide an exhaustive list. However, these causes are some of the most common reasons people decide to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
Are There Other Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits that May Be Filed in Pennsylvania?
In addition to the aforementioned types of cases, there are several other forms of wrongful death lawsuits that may be filed in Pennsylvania. While the following types of cases may not arise as frequently as others, they may still result in the recovery of significant compensation:
Slip and Fall Accident Cases
While some slip and fall accidents only result in minor injuries, others can be severe. There are several types of slip and fall accidents that can produce fatal consequences. For example, a delivery person who suffers a slip and fall on a broken staircase may suffer severe head trauma that ultimately results in their death. Similarly, a construction worker may suffer a deadly fall from a scaffolding structure because they slipped on debris that was left on the floor of their workspace. In either case, the victim’s family may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Bicycle Accident Cases
Bicycle accidents are another type of accident that has a high propensity to result in serious injuries. For example, victims of bicycle accidents regularly suffer head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage. In some cases, these injuries can have fatal consequences for victims.
Thankfully, if your loved one was killed because of a bicycle accident caused by another party’s negligence, then you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, a bicyclist may be killed because they were struck by a speeding driver. In that case, the victim’s family may pursue a claim for damages against the at-fault motorist.
Pedestrian Accident Cases
Like bicyclists, pedestrians who are struck by negligent drivers have a high propensity to suffer devastating injuries. There are several forms of negligence that can lead to pedestrian accidents. For instance, drivers may strike pedestrians because they were driving distracted, driving drunk, or disobeying traffic signals. If your family member was killed because of a pedestrian accident, then you may be able to sue the driver who hit them. Our Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys can assess the strength of your potential claim during your free case review.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the individual who has the authority to bring a wrongful death claim to court on behalf of the victim’s surviving family members. The personal representative is typically named in the deceased person’s will. If one has not been chosen, then a representative may be appointed by the court.
The primary purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek compensation for the losses suffered by the deceased person’s surviving family members as a result of the victim’s wrongful death. While the personal representative is responsible for initiating the lawsuit, the damages recovered are usually distributed among the eligible family members.
Pennsylvania law specifies that the victim’s surviving spouse, children, and parents are entitled to monetary damages. Additionally, if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, then other individuals who can demonstrate dependency or financial loss resulting from the death may be able to recover payment.
The process for recovering financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated. Accordingly, assistance from our Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyers can be very valuable when seeking to initiate your claim.
Damages that Can Be Recovered After a Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania
The damages recovered by plaintiffs in Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuits can vary from case to case. There are several factors that may impact the amount of compensation to award a victim’s family. Fortunately, our team can help determine which of the following damages may be available to you:
First, you may be able to recover economic damages stemming from your loved one’s wrongful death. This category of damages refers to quantifiable financial losses that stem from the death. For example, economic damages may include the deceased person’s medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and the value of future financial contributions that the deceased person would have provided to their family had they survived.
Furthermore, you may be able to obtain non-economic damages related to your family member’s wrongful death. These damages are more subjective and serve to provide compensation for the emotional suffering experienced by surviving family members. For instance, these damages can include the loss of companionship, guidance, and emotional support that the deceased person would have provided if they were alive.
In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages. These damages intend to punish defendants for particularly reckless and malicious behavior. It is important to note that punitive damages are generally only awarded in limited circumstances and require clear evidence of intentional wrongdoing or gross negligence. Guidance from our experienced team can be very helpful when determining whether punitive damages may be available in your case.
How Do You Prove that Your Loved One’s Passing Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
In order for your wrongful death claim to prevail, you must be able to prove that your loved one’s death occurred because of the defendant’s negligent or intentional behavior. There are several types of evidence that may be utilized.
For instance, physical evidence and photos from the scene of a victim’s accident can help establish fault. Furthermore, witness statements and recordings from private security cameras may be used to demonstrate the events that unfolded before, during, and after a deadly accident. Finally, expert witnesses may be summoned to explain complicated theories of fault.
Still, locating and preserving relevant evidence can be a complicated task. Parties in control of important evidence may be reluctant to cooperate with plaintiffs. Accordingly, guidance from our legal team can be immensely valuable when collecting the evidence needed to win your wrongful death case.
If You Need to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Our Attorneys Can Help
Losing a loved one is always hard. However, don’t let that stop you from holding the wrongdoers accountable for their negligence. If you wish to learn more about your potential case in a free, confidential consultation, call our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940.