Q: Aren’t wrongful death claims just for traffic accidents?
We can understand your confusion, though, because car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania are the most common reasons for filing wrongful death lawsuits. However, they aren’t the only reasons.
Lawyers use the phrase “wrongful death” in a particular way. In civil law, a wrongful death occurs when someone is killed as a result of neglectful or dangerous actions by another person (the defendant). The deceased person cannot bring a lawsuit for the injuries he suffered, but Pennsylvania law allows the surviving family members to demand compensation from the defendant for their own losses. Those losses can include money they spent on funeral costs, lost income for the rest of the dead person’s natural lifetime, lost access to pension or health benefits, emotional and psychological pain, lost companionship and association with the deceased person, and many other categories.
Even though representatives of the dead person’s estate can initially file a wrongful death claim, the estate doesn’t receive any part of the recovery. Instead, the proceeds of the lawsuit are divided among surviving family members: the deceased person’s spouse, if he had one; his children, if any outlive him and he has no spouse; or his parents, if he was survived by neither a spouse nor children.
To win a wrongful neglect case requires careful preparation and attention to detail. Your wrongful death lawyer must be able to show:
- That the defendant had a responsibility to make sure his actions were reasonably likely not to hurt anyone (in particular, the deceased person);
- That the defendant acted in an unreasonable and unsafe manner; and
- That his actions led in a predictable way to the death of your loved one.
If those criteria are met, there is no limitation to the specific type of accident, injury, or negligent behavior that can lead to a cause of action for wrongful death. At Schmidt Kramer, our fatal accident trial attorneys have undertaken cases across the whole range of wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania, including such cases as:
- Physical assaults
- Deaths due to defective consumer products
- Falls from heights
- Animal attacks
Are you ready to find out whether you have a cause of action? There is a maximum time limit for how long after a death the courts will accept a lawsuit, and each day you wait brings you closer to that limit.
Act now by calling the Harrisburg office of Schmidt Kramer at (717) 888-8888 toll-free. We will set up a FREE consultation with a personal injury attorney with no obligation. Call us today while you still have legal rights to pursue a recovery.