Edelstein Martin & Nelson has been serving families of wrongful death victims in Pennsylvania for many years, and we want to help you too. If you need help, contact us for a free consultation.
Families are the backbone of society and that is true in Pennsylvania as well. Death is an inevitable part of life, but when it’s completely preventable and happens unexpectedly, it can wreak havoc in a family. A wrongful death occurs when a loved one’s death is caused by reckless or intentional behavior by a person or business. It is often a tremendous blow for the deceased victim’s surviving relatives that is costly both emotionally and financially. Because wrongful death lawsuits can be complex and especially difficult for grieving families to navigate, they require the skill of an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Many people rely on their loved ones for care and companionship. Common to all wrongful death lawsuits is the unprepared loss of a family member and their contributions to the household. It can be extremely difficult to deal with not only the unexpected loss and the grief that comes with that, but also figuring out how to pay bills or take care of things that the deceased person previously managed.
We do not want anyone to have to struggle alone through arrangements and bills in the wake of their loved one’s passing, especially when it happened because of someone else’s negligence. Edelstein Martin & Nelson, LLP has handled an array of wrongful death lawsuits, including the most challenging cases of medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and defective products. Our wrongful death lawyers fight to pursue maximum compensation for each and every case. If your family member’s death was wrongfully caused, we can help you hold the responsible party liable to the fullest extent of Pennsylvania law. Call our law firm for a free consultation today.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Case?
It is considered wrongful death when the business or person responsible for the family member’s death had a duty of care toward them, breached that duty of care, and that breach caused the family member’s passing. All three elements must be present to win a wrongful death case:
- Your loved one’s death was partly or fully the fault of a person or business, whether intentional or negligent
- There are monetary damages from the wrongful death
- The deceased victim has surviving relatives or beneficiaries
Each element in a wrongful death claim requires evidence in support of it. But without knowing what you are looking for and how to get it, it is difficult to create a strong claim. A Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer from Edelstein Nelson & Martin, LLP has the investigative skills and resources you need to prove your case against the insurance company of the responsible party. With our legal representation, you can focus on your family while we work to bring justice.
What is a Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim in which the right to sue passes from the deceased victim to surviving relatives. It is they who seek restitution for their loved one’s death, from whoever is liable.
Some wrongful deaths occur after a personal injury where the deceased victim was expected to survive but did not. One example is a case that begins with nursing home abuse and neglect. When a personal injury claim results in the victim’s death, and surviving relatives want to continue to seek compensation for damages, it becomes a wrongful death claim.
If you are able to show that someone acted negligently in a way that harmed your loved one, and they died as a direct result, you may have a valid Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit to file. A case evaluation with a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer from our law firm can help you understand your legal options.
What are the Leading Causes of Wrongful Death Claims?
Car accidents kill Pennsylvanians just about every day. Injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and internal bleeding are common causes of fatalities in motor vehicle accidents. Head-on collisions are the deadliest type of car wreck.They are often caused by negligence from driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving.
Medical malpractice involving wrongful death occurs when medical staff violate their duty of care towards a patient, and doing so results in their death. A doctor misdiagnosing a patient, prescribing a medication they are allergic to, or performing an unnecessary medical procedure are a few examples of medical malpractice.
Workplace accidents such as construction sites are a major source of wrongful deaths resulting from someone else’s negligence. Liable parties could be anyone from the supervisor, another worker, the company itself, or a third party company. Because of the dangerous nature of the work and the environment of construction sites, negligence in safety can result in serious injuries and unfortunately, death.
Defective products that have a manufacturing, design, or marketing defect can be unreasonably dangerous and result in a loved one’s passing. The surviving relatives of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim for a defective product that caused a fatality. Pennsylvania law for product liability considers the loss that was sustained from the victim’s death whether they were a consumer, user, or bystander.
Unlawful violence involves a wrongful act of deliberate malice or intent to harm, which can take many forms. Assault or hit-and-run are a couple of examples. Dying from a gunshot wound by someone who was recklessly using a gun around the deceased victim is an example of wrongful death.
What Are the Most Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania?
Fatal motor vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania involve a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 42% of cases. Even though there are strict laws in every state in our country that prohibit driving drunk or otherwise impaired, these types of wrecks continue to take place regularly, resulting in many wrongful death cases every year.
In Pennsylvania, diagnosis errors, treatment errors, and surgical errors are the most common types of medical malpractice. Medical errors are a major cause of harm to patients in both Pennsylvania and the entire United States. According to some studies, many thousands of people die each year from preventable medical errors across the nation.
In 2020, most fatal workplace accidents in Pennsylvania came from the construction industry. The top three causes of fatal construction accidents were contact with objects and equipment, falls, and transportation incidents. 26% involved workers over age 65. The second-highest number of fatal workplace accidents is in transportation and warehousing. Many wrongful death claims in the state also come from manufacturing and retail trade.
Medical devices, children’s toys, motor vehicles, and household appliances are the most common types of defective products in Pennsylvania. High-profile cases of defective products in the state in recent years involved faulty medical devices, defective airbags, and dangerous consumer products. In 2020, defects such as choking hazards, fire hazards, and electrical hazards were found in the more than 63 million consumer products the CPSC recalled in the United States.
Many wrongful death claims are based on someone else’s negligence. However, it is just as possible for wrongful death to be caused by intentional behavior. There’s no real way to tell for certain without an investigation into all possible responsible parties and the cause of death. What is most important is being able to prove that a business or someone else caused your loved one’s death. When you call our law firm, one of our Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys will review your case free of charge so you can determine whether you have a wrongful death claim, regardless of neglect or intent.
Your Rights in a Wrongful Death Claim Under Pennsylvania Law
Wrongful death claims follow fairly similar laws in every state, with some notable differences. Pennsylvania law states that after a wrongful death, surviving family members can file a lawsuit against the responsible party to seek compensation for damages including such losses as funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and emotional trauma. There are additional regulations in Pennsylvania concerning bringing wrongful death claims, pertaining to wrongful death liability, wrongful death settlement limits, and who is considered eligible to file the lawsuit.
Certain surviving relatives have rights under Pennsylvania law to recover losses on behalf of the deceased person. A Pennsylvania wrongful death suit allows them to recover damages caused by their loved one’s death. However, they can also choose to file a survival claim.
What is a Survival Action?
A survival action, also known as a survival claim, addresses the damages that the deceased person experienced between their injury and their death, and aims to recover compensation for next of kin. A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, aims to recover compensation for the loss of the family member.
In Pennsylvania, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a survival action.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law states that the eligible relatives who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are the deceased’s spouse, parents, and adult children. Grandparents, grandchildren, and other relatives are generally excluded from filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, circumstances may differ in your unique case depending on who is available to file the lawsuit. Contact our Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyers to get more specific information about who should file the wrongful death case for your lost loved one.
Restitution for Families of Wrongful Death Victims
The presence of a wrongful death lawyer can mean the difference between getting full compensation under the law or getting next to nothing, or even an outright denial of your claim. Considering this, there is nothing more important for your case than securing adequate and competent legal counsel for your wrongful death matter.
When considering Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyers to consult, it is in your best interest for your potential legal representative to have knowledge, experience, and resources along with a strong reputation for helping families of wrongful death victims.
The Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at Edelstein Martin & Nelson, LLP are committed to providing compassionate legal counsel and representation to Pennsylvanians who’ve lost their loved ones through someone else’s negligence. Whether your case involves medical malpractice, a workplace accident, a defective product, a motor vehicle accident, or another type of claim, we’re here to help. You can trust our law firm to treat you with dignity as we work to bring your family some kind of closure.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
It is intuitive that we as people in a community have a duty of care to avoid causing harm to other people in several areas of life. Roadways, hospitals, consumer products, workplaces, businesses, and private residences are just a few examples of areas where a duty of care is both implied and enforced by civil law.
However, a challenging element of a wrongful death lawsuit is being able to prove that the responsible party breached their duty of care toward the deceased victim. In other words, to show that that particular person or business had certain responsibilities they violated can be challenging at times. A common defense is to blame the victim or another party. For this reason, a wrongful death attorney is necessary to fight back against bogus claims by liable parties. Without proper representation, you may lose out on getting compensated all together.
Another challenging element in a wrongful death case is proving that the breach of duty of care that occurred actually caused the family member’s death. You will need to have medical records to show any pre-existing conditions as well as all medical records from the time of the accident going forward, and documentation regarding the cause of death. A wrongful death attorney from our law firm can thoroughly examine your claim to make sure a liable party can be established with evidence.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is the same as filing any personal injury claim. According to Pennsylvania law, the surviving next of kin of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit up to 2 years from the date of their loved one’s passing.
A Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer should be consulted as soon as possible after the death occurs to get information on filing your wrongful death claim by the deadline. There are sometimes unique circumstances that could change the length of time for the statute of limitations for your case.
Wrongful Death Damages in Philadelphia, PA
To determine damages in a wrongful death claim, it is necessary to calculate both economic and non-economic losses. Only an experienced wrongful death attorney can successfully estimate a fair amount for damages, which takes into account not only the present but the future impact of the loss of the family member on various levels.
The main types of damages from the victim’s death their family can receive are:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Pain and suffering of the grieving family
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of financial support
There are some specific limits on how much you can be compensated for the wrongful death. Pennsylvania law has set a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, meaning there is a limit on the amount the plaintiff can recover for non-monetary damages. That cap is set at $500,000.
Also notable, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides death benefits to the dependents of workers who die as a result of work-related illness or injury, regardless of fault or negligence.
Wrongful death cases are devastating, and we believe that surviving family members should be able to seek compensation for all the trauma and loss they’ve suffered. Our wrongful death lawyers use the fullest extent of Pennsylvania law to bring restitution for grieving families.
FAQ About Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Cases
Are wrongful death settlements taxable?
Under federal law, wrongful death settlements are not taxable. This means you do not have to report it on your tax return or pay any percentage of taxes on the proceeds.
Does my deceased loved one’s PIP policy provide a death benefit?
Yes, their PIP policy would provide a small death benefit. This optional coverage provides $2,500-5,000 worth of benefits, and their surviving family members or beneficiaries would receive any remaining unused PIP benefits.
Can surviving family members recover punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Yes, you can sometimes recover punitive damages. In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death lawsuit has a cap set on punitive damages for the amount of two times your total damages. A Philadelphia wrongful death attorney from our law firm can evaluate your case to determine if you can recover punitive damages. They are only usually awarded in situations where the liable party went past negligence into the realm of maliciousness or extreme recklessness.
How are wrongful death damages divided in Pennsylvania?
A wrongful death settlement is divided among surviving family members according to their relationship to the deceased. In Pennsylvania, if the only surviving family members are the deceased’s parents, they split it equally between them. If the surviving family members are the deceased’s spouse and parents but no children, the spouse receives the first $30,000 and half of the remainder. But if there are neither parents, children, or a spouse, then courts will divide the settlement among any siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased.
Experienced Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyers On Your Side
A wrongful death means the sudden loss of a loved one. When such a tragedy hits, dealing with an insurance company to recover damages is the last thing anyone wants to do, even though it’s necessary. Being at what is possibly the lowest point in your life, however, does not mean you do not deserve to recover damages. It does not matter whether your loved one’s death was caused by a person or business involving medical negligence, a workplace accident, a defective product, a car accident, or unlawful violence, you are entitled to financial compensation.
The Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys at Edelstein Martin & Nelson, LLP are determined to support grieving families who’ve had their loved ones taken away too soon. We are available to represent you in your claim from beginning to end.
Our law firm will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death, negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement, and prepare for a possible trial. Together with our highly trained attorneys and staff, we can build a strong case to help you move forward financially after suffering a terrible tragedy. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-888-208-1810.