After a tragic accident, an injured victim can seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering through filing a civil lawsuit. However, if the accident results in someone's death, who is able to hold those responsible liable for the death? Through filing a wrongful death claim or a survival action, surviving beneficiaries may be able to seek damages from those responsible. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, talk to your experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney about your case.
Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania
Under common law, an injured person could seek damages from another who negligently caused their injuries. However, when that victim was killed as a result of the negligence, there was no recovery available because a dead person cannot file a lawsuit. Eventually, laws were created to fill this gap, allowing surviving family members to file a claim for damages they suffered as a result of the loss.
In Pennsylvania, 231 Pa. Code Rule 2202 deals with who can file wrongful death claims. The decedent's personal representative may file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if no wrongful death action has been filed within 6 months of death, any of the beneficiaries entitled to recover may bring an action on behalf of themselves and the other beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may include the decedent's spouse, children, or parents.
In most cases, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is 2 years. A personal representative or surviving beneficiary must file a lawsuit within two years, or their claim may be denied. However, you should talk to your attorney as soon as you can because the statute of limitations may be longer or shorter, depending on the specific facts of the case. You do not want to lose out on your claim because your case was filed too late.
After filing a wrongful death claim, those entitled to damages can seek expenses related to the care and treatment of the deceased prior to their death, as well as damages suffered by the family members after losing their loved one. Expenses may include funeral expenses, burial costs, medical bills and hospital care before they died. Surviving family members can recover costs for the loss of support, loss of consortium or companionship, and the loss of the decedent's income and financial support.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Just like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim may be caused by any type of accident. This includes car accidents, product defect accidents, assault, workplace accidents, slip and fall injuries, bike accidents, or medical malpractice. If another person, group, or company negligently caused someone's death, they may be held liable for damages, including wrongful death damages.
Unfortunately, many people never think of filing a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one. They may not want to revisit such a painful experience and think going through a lawsuit would bring up too many emotions. Others may not even be aware that they can claim compensation for their losses. However, there are a number of reasons why surviving family members should consider filing a wrongful death claim.
Many family members may have thought the death of a loved one was just an accident, and they do not know if anyone else was responsible. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the incident and identify possible causes of the death and help determine if someone else may have been responsible. Without such an investigation, the family may never know what really happened.
When negligent actions take human lives, they should be held accountable. Even if the person responsible expresses regret for their actions, that regret may not be enough to persuade them or others to act more responsibly in the future. However, holding the responsible party liable for the damages caused sends a message to others that they should think twice before acting recklessly because there are real consequences to their actions.
Corporations and manufacturers may put profits above human lives. Some product manufacturers put out products they know are defective, have inadequate warnings, or could lead to injury or death. They may put these products out on the market knowing that they may cause injury but consider the profit outweighs the costs they will lose through injury lawsuits. These companies need to be held responsible for their negligence to the fullest extent, to prevent other families from having to suffer similar losses in the future.
Wrongful Death Attorneys in Philadelphia
If you lost a loved one in an accident or another tragic event in Philadelphia, you may have a wrongful death claim for damages. No amount of money can bring back your lost loved one; however, the individuals responsible for causing the death should be held responsible. A wrongful death claim can help to make sure the person responsible is held accountable so that others won't have to suffer a similar tragedy. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the difficult process. Call Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.