Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Attorney
Our Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyers understand that losing a loved one is always difficult. But when another party’s negligent actions take away your loved one far too early, the pain is that much more difficult to process. Wrongful death litigation is designed to compensate families of the deceased for their loss, and give them the resources they need to begin putting the pieces of their lives back together.
Losing a loved one in an accident can put even the strongest of people in a vulnerable position. Not only is there the heartbreak and emotional turmoil present with all familial deaths, there are often serious questions about how the family will carry on without an important financial contributor. This is why you need a skilled wrongful death lawyer on your side as soon as possible following accidental death – to provide your family with space to grieve while fighting tooth and nail to secure your financial future.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, please contact Hal Waldman & Associates online to schedule your free consultation with one of our caring Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyers.
Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania
Every wrongful death case is unique. Any dollar amount you might recover in wrongful death litigation depends on the particular circumstances of your case.
Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act are two statutes that stipulate the kinds of damages that survivors may recover in wrongful death cases. The most important of these include:
- All hospital, medical, funeral, burial, and estate administration expenses.
- Monies to fairly and adequately compensate the family of the deceased for lost contributions to food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessities of life.
- Monies to fairly compensate a surviving father or mother for loss of guidance and moral upbringing in raising their surviving children.
- Monies to compensate survivors for the loss of such intangibles as housework, physical comforts, and companionship.
- Monies to compensate surviving family members for the pain and suffering from losing the loved one.
An unusual provision of Pennsylvania law is that plaintiffs may also be awarded compensation for the conscious pain and suffering that the victim may have suffered between the time of the injury and the time of death.
In Pennsylvania, the personal representative of the deceased may bring a wrongful death case within six months of the death of the decedent. The personal representative is generally the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. After six months, if the designated personal representative has not yet filed a claim, then any potential beneficiary may do so up to two years following the death of a loved one.
Pennsylvania wrongful death law is complex, and it takes an attorney with a proven record of success to ensure that survivors receive every penny to which they are entitled.
Types of Wrongful Death
There are innumerable instances that may give rise to wrongful death claims. If you lost a loved one in an accident and believe that someone else may be at fault their passing, you may have legal grounds for a wrongful death claim. There are four essential elements that inform wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania:
- That the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. For example, a manufacturer of a defective product is required to exercise diligence in creating, testing, and distributing.
- The defendant breached that duty. When an entity’s actions or inactions give rise to an accident, this is called negligence.
- You suffered harm as a result. In the case of wrongful death, the deceased’s loved ones also suffer harm as the result of the defendant’s negligence.
- You incurred damages. Examples of damages in a wrongful death case include the cost of burial or final medical expenses, loss of income, and intangible losses such as loss of partnership and emotional anguish.
When these four elements exist, this lays the foundation for a wrongful death claim. Some of the most common scenarios that lead to such claims include:
- Car accidents. An at-fault driver may be responsible for damages when failure to adhere to the rules of the road leads to your loved one’s death.
- Truck accidents. Commercial vehicle operators and owners must follow strict guidelines regarding driver behavior, truck maintenance, and more. Not following these rules can make them liable for any damages that result.
- Product defects. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must exercise reasonable care in the creation and sale of the products we use. If they fail that duty and it leads to your loved one’s death, they may be culpable for the damages you incur.
- Premise liability claims. If your loved one lost his or her life on someone else’s property, the owner of that property may be responsible. This applies to cases involving negligent security, swimming pool accidents, wrongful deaths on campus, and accidents in school or at daycare.
The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act
The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act informs the procedures survivors must follow in the event of a wrongful death action. This law establishes who may file a wrongful death suit, referred to as “beneficiaries.” Under Pennsylvania law, beneficiaries include:
- The parents of a deceased child
- Children of the deceased
- A spouse
Of course, every family situation is different. If you were depending on the deceased financially, you may be able to collect compensation in a wrongful death suit. Anyone who wishes to file a wrongful death action, however, must first establish dependency. The exception is minor children, who are presumed dependent on the deceased. A spouse may also recover damages for loss of love and services rendered by their deceased loved one.
While these beneficiaries may recover damages, only the executor of the deceased estate may file the action itself. This administrator must do so within six months of the death of the decedent. This is a short time in which to act, so if you suspect your loved one lost his or her life due to someone else’s negligence, it’s essential to retain the services of a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Protecting Your Future | Wrongful Death in Pittsburgh
Our wrongful death attorneys work personally with families struggling through the untimely death of a loved one. Knowing that insurance companies are often quick to offer settlements – hitting families at their most vulnerable – we take great care to protect our clients against these tactics and seek full compensation for damages including:
- Related medical expenses
- End of life and funeral expenses
- Projected future income
- Projected future contributions to family expenses such as tuition and mortgages
- Lost 401K and retirement benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional duress
When working with an experienced legal team, it is possible to get compensation for these and other wrongful death damages, but only if you take action within the first two years following your loved one’s death.
Our Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyers have over five decades of combined experience helping families in Western Pennsylvania get full compensation. We would be honored to meet with you free of charge or obligation to discuss your case, your rights, and the best way to get the justice you are due.