Losing a loved one is devastating, and the resulting grief may leave you feeling sad, angry, and confused. Moreover, if the death resulted from negligence, misconduct, or another unlawful action, you may wonder whether you and the other survivors are entitled to compensation for your suffering.
To put it simply, you probably are.
In this post, Erie Injury discusses everything you need to know about a wrongful death lawsuit and the most common kinds of cases.
Understanding Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a civil claim against a person or company for causing the death of another due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. Typically, the claim is brought by the deceased’s survivors, such as the person handling the estate, a family member, or a loved one.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and another person or company is legally at fault, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss. The at-fault party’s insurance company might want to settle the case quickly, usually under the impression that they want to help you “put the situation behind you.” However, it’s most often an attempt to settle the case for less than what you’re actually owed.
Contact a lawyer with experience in wrongful death lawsuits before dealing with any insurance companies. Your lawyer will handle all communication and help ensure you get what you’re entitled to for your pain and suffering. They’ll also help build your claim with the proof necessary to win your case so you can focus on healing with your loved ones.
What Must Be Proven?
For you and your legal team to prove wrongful death, you first must demonstrate:
- A death has occurred
- The death was a result of preventable circumstances, including but not limited to negligent or reckless driving, use of a defective product, or a slip-and-fall accident
- The deceased survivors have experienced pain and suffering as a result of the death, including financial loss and personal bereavement
- An appointed person is acting as the representative of the estate
It’s critical that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible following a wrongful death to ensure your damages are returned to you in full.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death lawsuit can help you and your loved ones recover more costs than funeral expenses and medical bills. In fact, Pennsylvania law might also entitle you to the following:
- Estate administration expenses
- Lost earnings and wages from a personal bereavement period
- Lost future earning potential of the deceased
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a familial relationship and companionship, also known as consortium
- Punitive damages
As with most lawsuits, very few wrongful death cases are settled in a trial before a jury. Instead, the lawyers from both parties will often negotiate a settlement to avoid the massive expense brought on by trials. A lawyer will typically negotiate better terms of the deal than you can on your own, so be sure to contact a lawyer to ensure you’re fully compensated.
Common Wrongful Death Cases
There are many instances in which a wrongful death lawsuit is applicable. Often, wrongful death cases can be brought for the same reasons as a personal injury case. There are, however, some wrongful death lawsuits that most people commonly file, including:
If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, provides inadequate care, or otherwise behaves negligently and causes the person to die, survivors may be able to file a wrongful death suit. These situations are often hard to prove, so you’ll need to work with a lawyer to properly build your case.
If a person dies in an automobile accident and the at-fault party was found to be driving negligently or recklessly, a wrongful death suit can be filed. Negligent driving may be proven if the driver is found to have been failing to exercise due care, intoxicated behind the wheel, disobeying traffic laws, texting while driving, or otherwise failing to act carefully.
*Pro-Tip: Wrongful death lawsuits aren’t typically brought for cases of a fatal workplace injury. Instead, they’re most commonly handled by the workers’ compensation system. If a loved one has recently died due to an accident in the workplace, be sure to hire a lawyer with experience in workers’ compensation cases in your state to discuss your case.
Let Someone You Trust Help See You Through
The grieving process is a long, arduous journey. To make the journey easier, you’ll want a trusted, compassionate lawyer to help you through your grief and ensure you’re well taken care of on the other side.
At Erie Injury, we’ll work through your situation with delicacy and care, ensuring you feel comfortable and supported the whole way through. If you’d like to learn more about what compensation you may be entitled to after a wrongful death, contact our office today for a free consultation.