The hardest thing a person may ever have to deal with is the loss of a loved one. Even more tragic is if their loved one dies due to the negligence or carelessness of someone else. In the aftermath, families will be searching for answers and closure.
At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., we want to help. Our compassionate team will sit with you and listen. We want to help investigate what happened so we can move to secure the compensation you deserve. When you need a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney, call us today.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In order to understand how to proceed with your case, you should understand what wrongful death cases are. These cases arise when the careless, negligent, or reckless actions of a person or entity cause the death of another person. The family of the deceased, or that person’s estate, can bring a lawsuit against those responsible.
These cases are not easy, as it is highly unlikely the other side will readily admit to wrongdoing.
Today, we want to go over some of the most common causes of wrongful death. Please know that this is not a complete list and you should always speak with a qualified attorney when making decisions regarding your particular case.
- Vehicle Accidents – In Pennsylvania’s latest reporting year, there were more than 1,100 vehicle crash fatalities. Many of these were caused by extreme driver negligence or carelessness. 26% of all traffic fatalities were due to alcohol-impaired drivers. Other fatalities were caused by distracted drivers and those who violated posted speed limits.
- Workplace Accidents – Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment. It is vital that employers provide workers with the equipment and training necessary to do their jobs.
- Product Liability – Even though there are strict laws in place to prevent manufacturers and stores from selling and making dangerous products, we know that product recalls happen all the time in the US. These products are often faulty due to a flawed design, a manufacturing error, or labeling issues.
- Medical Mistakes – Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of around 250,000 people annually. There is a range of errors that medical professionals can make: diagnosing mistakes, anesthesia errors, birth injuries, medication errors, surgical errors and more.
- Criminal Activity – When an individual commits a crime and kills someone in the process, they can be held accountable both criminally by the state and civilly by the victims family.
How We Can Help You
There is nothing easy about this. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is tough enough, but if another person’s negligence caused the death, you need answers. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., we know that no amount of money will ease your pain, but it can help bring closure. We will work to ensure you receive:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income and benefits of the deceased
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of companionship damages
- Punitive damages against those responsible
It can be extremely challenging to heal and “move on” when you lose a close family member. For many people, their lives are never going to be the same after the passing of their loved one.
Contrary to popular belief, pursuing a wrongful death claim is not opportunistic or money-obsessed. Rather, it is a way to punish the person or entity whose negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing caused the loss of your loved one and a way to obtain the financial relief that family members may require to support themselves moving forward.
We invited our Philadelphia wrongful death attorney from Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., to review Pennsylvania’s wrongful death laws at a glance.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania?
Not every surviving family member has a right to obtain compensation. Pennsylvania law is rather strict about which family members have a right to bring a wrongful death action.
In our state, wrongful death claims must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. In many cases, a specific family member is named as the executor in the Last Will and Testament left behind by the deceased.
But what happens when a Pennsylvanian resident dies without a will? “In that case, a family member may volunteer to assume the rights and obligations of the personal representative or the court may appoint someone to assume that role,” explains our Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer.
The personal representative, who brings a lawsuit on behalf of all eligible surviving family members, has six months after the death to pursue the lawsuit. Failure to do so entitles any beneficiary to file the lawsuit on behalf of himself or herself and all other eligible members of the family.
How is the Wrongful Death Award Decided by Pennsylvania Courts?
When determining the amount of wrongful death compensation to award the surviving family members, a Pennsylvania court will review a plethora of key aspects ranging from calculating the damages and losses to deciding whether or not punitive damages should be awarded.
Typically, only an experienced wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania can accurately estimate how much your claim is worth and build a robust legal case by including testimony, expert witnesses, accident reconstruction, and other pieces of evidence to maximize the amount of compensation.
What is the Time Limit on Filing Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the personal representative of the estate can file a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of the death. A court will not hear a wrongful death claim that was not brought within 24 months from the passing of your loved one.
However, a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney may advise you on the ways to delay the time limit because some circumstances can entail a longer statute of limitations.
How Long Does It Take to Win a Wrongful Death Award?
How long it will take to resolve your wrongful death case depends on various factors involved in your case, including the strength of evidence provided and the defense strategy chosen by the defendant and their lawyer.
In some cases, the defendants are willing to settle wrongful death claims. In others, however, the only way to win the award or settlement is through a lawsuit, which can extend the length of the process.