Wrongful Death Cases
A wrongful death claim is one that is brought against a defendant who had caused the death of someone else. This can be done through intentional action of some kind or through negligence.
These claims will allow the estate or those who were close to the deceased person to file a lawsuit against whatever party is liable legally for the death. While each state does have their own wrongful death laws, these lawsuits can often be handled by the legal representation for the family of the deceased.
If someone you love has been wrongfully murdered or died due to the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to filing a wrongful death claim. These claims can be challenging though and there are many parts that come into play. If you are already dealing with the emotions of losing your loved one, there is an added challenge when trying to keep it all organized.
Rather than handling the wrongful death claim on your own, consider hiring a wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia to help you handle everything. From gathering the evidence to helping with the negotiations, a wrongful death lawyer can handle all the parts for you, ensuring you get the settlement and compensation you deserve.
When Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is one that will arise after any situation in which the victim, if they had not died, would have had a valid claim for personal injury. However, since the individual is no longer alive to handle the personal injury case because their injuries were too severe, it is possible for the estate of the individual, usually with the help of their lawyer, to file a wrongful death claim instead. There are several situations that can lead to these claims including:
The Victim is Intentionally Killed
This is when the defendant purposely killed the other party. Whether it was premeditated or not, this ended up costing the life of the victim. If some action intentionally killed the other person, it can be liable to a wrongful death claim.
In some cases, the victim may die due to medical malpractice. If a doctor who is responsible for diagnosing a condition or taking care of the patient and doesn’t do this job properly even though they should have, or the doctor is careless in the care they provide, and this cases the patient to die, then the family can do a wrongful death claim against the doctor and the hospital.
Car Accidents Due to Negligence
If the victim does end up dying because of injuries from a car accident, it is possible to bring up a wrongful death claim against the other party. There needs to be proof that negligence on the part of the other driver was present.
These are just some of the most common personal injury cases that your lawyer may be able to work with you when it comes to wrongful death claims. These claims can stem from any kind of personal injury situation. One exception to this is work injuries that may result in death. These will usually not rely on wrongful death because they are handled through the worker’s compensation system instead.
Four Elements That Occur In a Wrongful Death Case
When it comes to a wrongful death case, there are four key elements to work with. Members who are surviving their loved ones who submit a claim or file a lawsuit need to prove all four elements to win a case for financial recompense. These four elements include:
The surviving family members, or their legal team, needs to prove that the death of a loved one was caused, at least in part, by the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of the defending party. Our team can step in and do all the necessary research to help prove this factor.
Breach of duty:
To have a successful wrongful death case, your team needs to prove that the defendant owed some kind of duty to the victim who is deceased.
For example, medical providers have a duty to keep their patient’s healthy and a motorist has a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. The plaintiff needs to be able to establish how this duty existed and that the duty was breached through various negligent actions.
The plaintiff needs to also prove how the negligence for the defendant was what caused the death of the loved one. Our wrongful death attorneys can help find evidence that this happened.
The death of the victim needs to generate quantifiable damages. This would include things like loss of income and potential income, loss of protection, loss of inheritance, funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, and hospitalization.
It is important to prove all four points of this in court to complete your wrongful death lawsuit. This will require strong evidence that is convincing. You may also need to have expert witness testimony to help you get started. A skilled attorney that specializes in these types of cases can make it easier as well. Contact our team of qualified wrongful death lawyers in Philadelphia to help you with your wrongful death case.
What Needs to Be Proven?
To be able to hold any defendant liable for this kind of claim, the plaintiff of this claim along with their lawyer, usually through the estate of the person who passed, need to meet the same burden of proof that any victim would meet if they were still alive and needed to do a personal injury case.
For example, if we are working with negligence, this means that the estate of the deceased would need to show the defendant owed the victim some duty of care (such as following the rules of the road during a car accident), that the defendant did not meet this duty, and that because of failing to meet this duty, the death occurred. The plaintiff will also need to show that the death caused the damages they want to cover, such as money for funeral costs.
Burden of Proof
In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit will not be seen as a criminal case, but rather a civil action. This means that the burden of proof is often lower. To be successful with this, the lawsuit must be won on the preponderance of evidence, rather than the individual being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If family members which to pursue a civil action for this kind of case, there are different steps that need to happen including developing the right strategy, investigating the claim that is brought forward, talking with experts, meeting the different witnesses, and researching tort law. There are often lots of demands to handle, mediation, and even settlement. If both sides can’t reach an agreement, then a lawsuit can be filed.
In these cases, a large quantity of evidence is not required. Rather, the evidence needs to be high-quality and credible. This can be difficult to work with on your own. Working with an experienced attorney is important because of all the complications that come with a wrongful death case. Wrongful death attorneys can step in and make sure that you get everything handled and can get the compensation necessary after losing a loved one to a wrongful death case.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
It is always a good idea to talk with a wrongful death attorney early on to discuss some of your options with a wrongful death claim. These claims are often filed not by individuals, but by a representative for the estate of the person who passed.
It is done on behalf of the survivors who had some kind of relationship with the deceased. Those who can be survivors and benefit from this kind of claim will vary based on the state.
In every state, a spouse is able to bring up this claim if their spouse is the victim. Parents of a minor child can do this claim too if it was one of their children who passed. A minor child can collect compensation if one of their parents die. These are areas where all states seem to agree.
However, there are some places where the states will start to disagree. They may disagree about whether an adult child can sue over the wrongful death of one or both parents, whether grown siblings can sue for this kind of death, or even if grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins can sue. A good thing to consider is how close the relationship is, the easier it is to file one of these claims. Distant relatives often have no legal recourse.
There are some states that allow the romantic partner of the person who died, even if they were not married, is able to bring in a wrongful death claim. In other states, anyone who can show financial dependence on the deceased can file a claim as well. If you are uncertain about whether you can file a claim or not, it is a good idea to discuss the option with your wrongful death lawyer ahead of time.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Attorneys who specialize in wrongful death claims can handle many different types of cases along the way. There are different things that will cause a wrongful death claim including:
- Assisted living and nursing home abuse and neglect.
- Supervised activities that may include things like field trips, adult care,
- and day care.
- Criminal actions that result in death including stabbings, shootings, and blatant violence.
- Premises accidents.
- Occupational hazards and exposures.
- Product defects
- Birth defects
- Medical malpractice that resulted in death.
- Motorcycle, commercial truck, and automobile accidents
Damages for Wrongful Death
There are different types of damages that the estate of the deceased can claim during their wrongful death claim. With the help of your wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- The pain and suffering of the deceased before they died. This is often called the survival claim.
- Costs for funerals and burial
- The costs for medical treatment for the deceased victim that they incurred due to any injuries before death.
- The loss of expected income from the deceased person if they had lived.
- The loss of any inheritance that goes away because of the death.
- The value of any services that the person who died would have provided.
- The loss of consortium
- The loss of companionship and love from that person.
- The loss of nurturing, guidance, and care that the victim would have provided to their family members.
The amount that you would be able to get in compensation for any of these factors, and even which factors you can count for compensation will depend on the individual situation and what happened before the individual died.
This is why you should consider working with a lawyer who understands these wrongful death claims. They can walk you through the process, answer your questions, and find the necessary evidence to bolster your case and get you the compensation that you deserve.
Do not pursue a wrongful death claim by yourself.
After losing a loved one, it is easy to feel a rush of emotions. You are upset that you no longer have that loved one around and that you now have high bills to pay for and a potential loss of income. Handling a wrongful death case may be the right course of action, but doing it on your own can be a disastrous mistake. There are a lot of components that need to come into play and having someone on your side who understands the law and how these cases work can ensure you get the settlement you deserve.
Our team can provide you with all of the help you need in a wrongful death claim. Our wrongful death attorneys can provide you with help gathering evidence, finding expert testimony, and giving you the help you need during all of your case. Contact us today to see how our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers can help you. "We Win or It’s Free” ®