Filing a Wrongful Death Suit

Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Attorney

At Stine & Associates, P.C., we believe in standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. If your family is grappling with a family member’s wrongful death, a Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help. Attorney Cindy Stine and her team understand the complex emotions and particular legal challenges of a wrongful death claim and can guide you through the legal journey ahead.

We approach these sensitive cases with empathy and a relentless pursuit of justice. We provide compassionate assistance and peace of mind during these trying times by advocating for your rights and holding the liable parties accountable. Call Stine & Associates, P.C., today or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Pennsylvania Can Help You

A Pennsylvania wrongful death claim is a complex and emotionally taxing process. However, hiring a wrongful death lawyer helps ensure that your case receives the attention and skill it deserves. A seasoned attorney not only understands the intricacies of Pennsylvania’s personal injury laws but also brings a level of professionalism and compassion to your case. They work tirelessly to secure fair compensation for your losses, allowing you to focus on healing and remembering your loved one.

On the other hand, foregoing legal representation puts you at a significant disadvantage. The legal landscape surrounding wrongful death claims is fraught with challenges, from strict filing deadlines to complex negotiations with insurance companies. Without legal advice from an experienced attorney, you risk missing critical legal nuances and potentially undermining the strength of your claim. Here are some ways an attorney can assist you with your wrongful death claim:

  • Providing a Case Evaluation: An attorney can provide a comprehensive assessment of your case, helping you understand your legal rights and the potential for family compensation. They can evaluate the circumstances surrounding the wrongful death to determine the best course of action.
  • Conducting an Investigation: Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence substantiating your claim, including witness statements, medical records, and expert testimony.
  • Providing Legal Guidance: A wrongful death attorney can guide you through every step of the legal system, from filing the claim to helping you understand complex legal procedures, keeping you informed and prepared for what lies ahead.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurers stay in business by minimizing payouts. Your attorney can handle all negotiations to make sure you receive fair compensation without falling prey to lowball settlement offers.
  • Pursuing Litigation: If the liable party won’t agree to a fair settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit and take your case to court. They can represent you in all legal proceedings, presenting a compelling case to give you the best chance of a favorable verdict.

How Does Pennsylvania Define a Wrongful Death?

Pennsylvania law defines a wrongful death as any death resulting from someone’s “wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence.” Basically, if someone caused your family member’s death because they acted carelessly or with deliberate intent to cause harm, you likely have cause for a wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act states that the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, or parents all have the right to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the personal representative of their estate can file a claim.

Compensation in a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If someone dies a wrongful death in Pennsylvania and has a surviving spouse, children, or parents, they can pursue compensation for a broad range of losses they experienced. Depending on the specifics of the case, compensation in a wrongful death claim may include money for:

  • The deceased’s medical bills related to their fatal injury or illness before their death.
  • The deceased’s lost income between the date of the accident.
  • The money the deceased’s family lost because of their family member’s passing.
  • Funeral and burial costs.
  • The loss of emotional support from the deceased.

If the deceased’s personal representative files a claim and there are no other eligible family members, state law holds that they can pursue compensation for a more limited range of losses. Those eligible losses include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and costs related to administering the deceased’s estate.

Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Actions in Pennsylvania

In some cases, someone does not immediately die from their injuries in an accident. When this happens, the deceased’s family or personal representative can file a claim seeking compensation for the deceased’s losses from the time of their injury or illness until their death. This type of legal action is called a survival action, as it’s essentially a personal injury lawsuit by the deceased that “survives” their death.

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

Unlike other areas of personal injury law, wrongful death claims can result from many types of accidents. That’s because the type of accident doesn’t matter in this type of personal injury action, only that someone died as a result of another party’s careless or intentional actions. Knowing some common causes of wrongful deaths can help you figure out if you have grounds for legal action. Some common accidents that cause wrongful deaths include:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians frequently cause fatal injuries. These tragedies often result from speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and failure to follow traffic laws.
  • Medical Malpractice: When healthcare professionals fail to meet accepted standards of medical care required and a patient dies, it constitutes medical malpractice. Examples of malpractice that can cause a wrongful death include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, and neglecting patient needs.
  • Birth Injuries: Birth injuries can lead to wrongful deaths either during childbirth or shortly after. These tragic events may occur due to medical negligence, such as improper use of birth-assisting tools, failure to monitor the baby’s oxygen intake, or ignoring signs of fetal distress.
  • Workplace Accidents: Fatal accidents can occur in high-risk work environments like construction sites, manufacturing plants, and offshore platforms. Causes include falls from heights, machinery malfunctions, exposure to hazardous substances, and inadequate safety protocols.
  • Defective Products: Wrongful deaths can also stem from the use of defective products, ranging from malfunctioning vehicles and unsafe children’s toys to faulty medical devices and harmful pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers and sellers of these products may be liable if their negligence leads to a fatality.
  • Slip-and-Fall Accidents: Poorly maintained properties, wet floors without warning signs, and unsafe construction areas can all lead to fatal accidents. While often underestimated, slip-and-fall accidents can be deadly, especially for the elderly or in hazardous conditions.
  • Criminal Acts: Violent crimes, including assault, robbery, and other intentional acts, can result in wrongful deaths.

Deadline to File a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawsuit

According to Pennsylvania law, surviving family members or the deceased’s personal representative have two years from the date of the injury victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. That might sound like a long time, but these cases take a while to build. Furthermore, waiting too long to speak to an attorney could mean that critical evidence disappears or deteriorates, weakening your case. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to avoid any issues with your case.

Contact a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyer Now

We know you’re hurting, but it’s crucial to speak to an attorney right away to protect your rights and find justice for a family member’s untimely death. Call Stine & Associates, P.C., today or reach out online for a free case review.