According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 173,040 people die in unintended accidents every year. While the cause of wrongful death can widely vary, the fact that it was unintended means that it’s possible that there was a person or company who is directly or indirectly responsible.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is used to denote the death of a human being due to intentional acts or misdeed. It could also be the result of negligence like drunk or dangerous driving. Wrongful death is often associated with a civil action, which is an attempt to recover damages that resulted in the death of a human being.
Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death can be the result of many types of accidents, including, but not limited to the following.
- Fall deaths: Unintended fall deaths, including slip-and-fall accidents, amount to an estimated 39,433 people every year.
- Vehicle accidents: Since so many people drive vehicles, this type of wrongful death is one of the most common. An estimated 37,595 deaths take place every year.
- Poisoning deaths: Some 65,773 unintended accidents involve poisonings.
While your wrongful death case could involve a range of other unintended deaths, including construction site accidents (occupational exposures and hazards), abuse or neglect, medical malpractice, or even product liability and defects. While the cause of the wrongful death can vary, you still deserve a wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia who will take your case and work on your behalf to recover compensatory benefits from the negligent party.
You need to know that your attorney understands your situation, is knowledgeable about wrongful death cases, and can prepare a defense that best represents your case. The attorney should also be approachable, so you can ask questions, get recommendations, and gather information so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The first step in determining the viability of a wrongful death case is to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney. Under Pennsylvania law, the wrongful death claim must prove the fault of the negligent party. Here are elements or factors that must be proven.
- Negligence. The negligent party’s responsibility is connected to the death, whether by carelessness, recklessness, or fault in actions.
- Breach of duty. Death occurred because the negligent party had a duty/responsibility to not injure the deceased, but the person failed in that responsibility.
- Causation. The wrongful death is a result of negligence, a failure to fulfill a duty or responsibility to the deceased, which resulted in a preventable death. The evidence in the case must prove that the defendant caused the death.
- Damages. A wrongful death claim means that there is a surviving member or members who have suffered loss and damages as a result of the death. The loss may include a range of costs directly related to the care, hospitalization, funeral expenses, etc. related to the deceased.
It’s not a simple matter to prove all of these elements of a wrongful death case, which is why it’s best to carefully consider the evidence, witness statements, and other court documents to determine whether you can prove the elements of your wrongful death lawsuit.
How to Know If You Have a Wrongful Death Claim
Since you really are required to prove a great deal is you take your wrongful death case to court, you should contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss and review the evidence in the case. After meeting with you for a free consultation, an experienced wrongful death attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a claim worth pursuing. Some of the questions the lawyer will ask include:
- Who is the beneficiary or family who may have a legal right to file a claim?
- What are the losses that you can prove in connection with the loved one (lost wages, etc.)?
- Is there proof that anyone was/is negligent in the death of your loved one?
Once you’ve met with a wrongful death attorney, the case may move forward quickly. The goal is to work toward the recovery of damages to help alleviate the financial repercussions of your loved one’s death. An experienced attorney can take care of the details of the case, so you can focus on your own recovery and healing process.
What Are the Damages Possible?
A range of possible damages may come into play in a wrongful death case. The damages often include any costs that were incurred as a direct cause of the negligent action or inaction. Those costs could include the following.
- Related medical expenses. That could include hospitalizations, therapy, ambulance transportation, or other direct or indirect medical expenses.
- End-of-life expenses. These costs could include mortuary and burial costs, as well as any other related end-of-life costs.
- Projected future income. This is often a calculation based on the estimated yearly income of the deceased.
- Future Financial Contributions (Mortgage and Tuition). Damages can involve projected costs, if you can prove that a certain monetary value would have been expected.
- Loss of a loved one. This calculation is not so simple, but it could take into account the relative loss factors to the loved ones who are left behind.
This whole process may feel disjointed and difficult. You’re putting a value on a person’s life, but it’s also a person who has meaning to you and the rest of your family. Your attorney will help you with the process, which should make it easier to discuss the elements of the case and the possible damages. Ultimately, this is a legal proceeding, which is why it’s tied to financial recompense.
Next Step: Choose a Wrongful Death Attorney
Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys specialize in understanding the scenarios that might affect your case, but they also have the knowledge and experience to aggressively present your claim in a court of law. They are skilled in taking your case into court and presenting all the salient facts and details in a way that proves the validity of your wrongful death claim.