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Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorney

A wrongful death claim can be made anytime a person dies as a result of another’s negligence or reckless actions. Although many incidents can cause a death, there are some specific issues that are involved with this type of claim. At the Philadelphia law firm of Rosenbaum & Associates, we want to make sure that the family is compensated for all their losses, both emotional and financial. A Philadelphia wrongful death attorney at our firm understands that this is a difficult and emotional time.

We want to protect your rights and make sure your family does not have to endure any additional hardship. Our experienced attorneys at Rosenbaum & Associates have successfully helped many families who have lost loved ones, and provided them with financial security. If you have lost a loved one resulting from the negligence of another, our Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers can help. Contact our firm for a free consultation.

Why Choose Our Wrongful Death Lawyers?

  • Our firm has over 25 years of experience advocating for those injured or killed by another party’s negligence.
  • We have helped families in Pennsylvania recover millions in compensation.
  • We care about our clients and offer quality legal representation without any upfront costs and will only be paid when you are.

Pennsylvania’s Definition of Wrongful Death

Under Pennsylvania law (42 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. § 8301), a “wrongful death” is defined as one that is “caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.” In other words, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies and it is the legal fault of another person or entity. It may be a result of:

  • A negligence-based accident (e.g., car accident, slip and fall accident, nursing home neglect, workplace accident)
  • Medical malpractice, or
  • An intentional act of violence.

When determining if you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, consider whether your deceased loved one could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. If the at-fault party’s actions were negligent, reckless, or intentional, then your loved one would have had the right to sue.

Leading Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

Many different types of accidents can cause a wrongful death. Some of the most frequent incidents that give rise to wrongful death claims include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents are the most common cause of wrongful deaths. Most fatal collisions result from driver negligence, such as distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, driving while fatigued, texting and driving, etc.

Medical Malpractice

The third leading cause of death in the U.S is medical errors. When a healthcare provider makes a significant mistake, patients can be severely injured or lose their lives. Many wrongful death claims are filed due to a physician’s misdiagnosis or failure to identify an illness, incorrect treatment, surgical errors, birth injuries, medication errors, and more.

Workplace Accidents

There is an increased chance of worker fatalities in high-risk occupations. For example, construction is inherently dangerous. It is an employer’s responsibility to provide a reasonably safe work environment to prevent serious accidents. A wrongful death claim can be filed against an employer if the company’s negligence resulted in a loved one’s death.

Defective Products

A defective product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, seller, or any other individual or company involved in its distribution chain can be liable if the defective product causes a fatality.

Other common causes of wrongful deaths in Philadelphia include bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and criminal acts of violence.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There is a two-year time limit for wrongful death and survival actions in Pennsylvania. This law is known as the statute of limitations (42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2). The time limit begins for wrongful death lawsuits from the date of the death but from the date of injury for survival actions. There are some exceptions to this law, but failing to bring a claim within the allotted time will prevent families from recovering compensation.

What Can My Family Recover?

Recovery for wrongful death is created by state statute. Jeff Rosenbaum, a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer, says the purpose is to compensate the decedent’s survivors for pecuniary loss they have sustained as result of a family member’s death. That is, loss suffered by the relatives as a result of the deprivation of the part of the earnings of the deceased that the relatives would have received from the deceased if he lived. This includes money that the deceased would spend or give to his or her family for housing, food, clothes, health care, education, recreation, entertainment, and gifts. In addition, there is recovery for the value of the services, society and comfort that they would have given to the family had they lived, including work around the home; provision of physical comforts, services, and companionship.

Who Can Recover?

For purposes of determining whether parent or child can maintain an action under the Wrongful Death Act in Pennsylvania, a “family relation” exists between parent and child when the child receives from parent services, maintenance or gifts with such reasonable frequency as to lead to expectation of future enjoyment of these services, maintenance or gifts.

The Survival Action

In addition to a claim under the Wrongful Death Act, there is a separate claim known as a survival action. In this claim, there can be recovery for damages, which the deceased could have sued for in his lifetime, this includes pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death, the cost of medical, nursing and hospital care, the gross loss of the deceased’s earning power from the date of injury until death, and loss of earning power less personal maintenance expenses from the time of death through the remainder of the deceased’s estimated life expectancy. Recovery is not permitted for loss of the enjoyment of life, or shortening of life expectancy.

Who Is Entitled to Make a Survival Claim?

Survival action is an action belonging to the estate of the decedent for damages suffered by the decedent prior to his death or suffered by his estate. Therefore, the action is brought by a representative (administrator) of the estate. Damages recovered under a survival action belong to the estate, and are subject to estate and inheritance taxes and the claims of decedent’s creditors, and pass according to the terms of the decedent’s will, or according to the intestate laws if he died intestate (without a will).

Proving Damages

Damages for wrongful death require the plaintiff to prove expected lifespan of the deceased, future earnings, estimated cost to maintain the decedent, and any amount that would have been given to his or her beneficiaries. Economists or actuaries tend to be used to analyze and calculate any damages.

Planning For a Funeral After a Wrongful Death

Handling the logistics of a funeral and burial (or cremation) can be an emotionally and logistically challenging experience, no matter the circumstance. When the family believes that an individual or organization caused the death, the process can become even more fraught and confusing.

To cover the expenses, the family can seek compensation from the party that directly or indirectly caused the death. However, loved ones should take care to identify and control costs, to document every part of the process, and to save receipts and paperwork. The funeral director should be able to provide a complete catalogue of potential costs, including cemetery fees, casket costs, transportation costs and other miscellaneous fees.

The Logistics of Planning

Work with loved ones and friends to coordinate the funeral and burial planning. First, identify a locally convenient funeral home that shares the family’s values and that has a strong reputation. Ask for help to transport the body of the loved one to the funeral home, and then coordinate to develop plans for the funeral service. The funeral director should help the family identify where and how to obtain flowers, a casket and other necessities. In addition, the family will need to coordinate cemetery planning at this stage. The funeral director and representative of the cemetery can work with the family to accommodate requests, find a burial spot and organize the process. In addition, the family will have to handle critical money-related, insurance and legal matters, including locating the last will and testament, handling the probate process, publishing death notices, and filing for insurance and other benefits, including wrongful death claims. The family may also need to round up participants to prepare eulogies and serve as pallbearers.

Solicit friends and loved ones to help with the funeral and burial as well as with other critical logistics. For instance, if the decedent lived alone, the family would need to shut off the electricity and cable, collect mail, prevent looting, care for any pets at the home, etc. Work with this support team to develop a checklist and action plan, and be sure to document all of the costs and expenses, so that the liable party in your wrongful death claim can pay an appropriate reimbursement.

Contact Our Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorneys

In addition to seeking medical and funeral costs, the family can seek compensation for the decedent’s lost income and retirement benefits as well as other benefits that would have accrued, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and consortium.

Finally, family members can seek what are known as punitive damages, which the court awards in cases in which a person or company behaved in a grossly reckless, careless or negligent manner. If you would like more information about wrongful deaths in Philadelphia, please contact a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer online or call us at (215) 569-0200 for a free case evaluation.