Death eventually comes to us all. That’s a fact of life. The deaths of some people should have been preventable, however, and their tragic demise may constitute grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes, a personal injury lawsuit had already been filed against the entity responsible for the victim’s injuries, but the victim dies from the injuries before the suit is heard or settled. In such cases, a personal injury lawsuit is changed into a wrongful death suit.
Common Wrongful Death Causes
While wrongful death may occur due to a variety of causes, there are some that are particularly common. These include:
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Defective products
- Birth injuries
- Work hazards
- Violent crime
- Nursing home abuse
Proving Wrongful Death
To receive financial compensation in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove certain key elements regarding the circumstances of the death.
Proving negligence is one aspect. Had the responsible parties behaved differently, and not in a reckless or careless manner, the death may not have happened. In some cases, such as with homicide victims, the defendant intentionally wanted to kill or harm the person. Keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil, and not a criminal, complaint.
It is also crucial to prove the actual cause of death. Family members may feel that someone’s bad behavior negatively affected a loved one and forced him or her into an early grave. But that’s not wrongful death in a legal sense. Instead, concrete proof of causation is necessary, such as a motorist running over a pedestrian while texting on a cellphone.
There’s also the condition known as breach of duty. That means the defendant in the lawsuit must have owed some kind of duty to the deceased. In a case of a doctor who failed to treat a patient properly, that sort of duty is obvious.
However, many wrongful death cases involve people who did not know each other, such as an accident victim and the driver of the other vehicle. In such situations, the driver responsible had a duty to drive sober and obey traffic laws.
Finally, the victim’s death must involve some sort of damages. That may range from medical and burial expenses to the loss of income for the victim’s family because of their passing.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania
Every state has laws specifying who may file a wrongful death claim on the part of the dead person’s estate. In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative, sometimes called the executor, of the dead person’s estate. The suit is filed on behalf of the late person’s beneficiaries. However, if the personal representative does not file a wrongful death suit within six months of the person’s death, any of the beneficiaries – such as a spouse or children – may file suit on behalf of all beneficiaries.
Chester County Wrongful Death Lawyers from McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Will Represent Your Best Interests
If you have lost a family member because of another party’s negligence or recklessness, you need the services of the Chester County Wrongful Death lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Contact us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers represent clients in Pennsylvania, including Delaware County and Chester County, as well as in Delaware, and New Jersey.