Should I Sue For Wrongful Death?
Losing a loved one is something that no one should ever have to go through. However, if you do, it can be very difficult for you and your family to adjust, both due to grief and to a sudden restructuring of your financial picture. If you believe that your loved one’s passing came about because of another person’s negligence, you may be able to bring a claim for wrongful death against the driver or other actor that you think is responsible.
Pennsylvania Law Is Specific
Pennsylvania law defines wrongful death as a death caused by the “wrongful act or neglect” or “unlawful violence or negligence” of another person. Unlike in some other states, the act or neglect has to be of the same type that would support a personal injury claim if the person had survived. For example, if your loved one had been in an auto accident and survived with injuries, they would be able to bring a personal injury suit based on those injuries. Thus, if they were in an auto accident and died of their injuries, a wrongful death suit would be possible.
It is important to keep in mind that state law does specify that at least initially, only the personal representative (PR) of the deceased person’s estate is able to file a wrongful death suit. This does not mean that the deceased person’s relatives have no input on the decision; rather, it means that the person given control of the estate gets the first opportunity to file. If the PR does not file within six months of the person’s date of passing, any of the beneficiaries of the estate may then file.
It’s Okay To File
Some people may see a wrongful death suit as somehow mercenary or otherwise in poor taste, but the law is designed so that those who lose a loved one can be fairly compensated for their loss. If your loved one was the primary breadwinner for your household, it can be a serious and frightening prospect to figure out household finances without his income. If you prevail at trial, you may be awarded compensation for medical bills and funeral expenses. Lost wages, pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages may also be recovered but only through a companion Survival Action claim.
If you do decide to file a wrongful death suit, be aware that you have a specific window of time in which to do so. Pennsylvania allows two years from “when the cause of action accrued,” namely, from the date of your loved one’s passing. This may seem like a decent amount of time, but in reality, it is not very much, given how long the process of navigating through the court system can take. It is critical that your case is able to be heard, when the stakes are so high.
Can A Scranton Wrongful Death Attorney Help You?
When you lose a loved one, it can be devastating, and the last thing you need to worry about at such a painful time is legal issues. An experienced Scranton wrongful death attorney can help your family through the process of seeking compensation for the harm and loss you have suffered. The Needle Law Firm is well versed in these types of cases, and we will work hard toward getting you what you need to be able to get back on your feet. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.