Allentown Wrongful Death Lawyer
A personal injury lawsuit allows an accident victim to seek compensation from the parties whose negligence caused their injuries. But what happens when the victim dies as a result of those injuries? In those tragic cases, the victim’s survivors have the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death is a special category of personal injury claim recognized by Pennsylvania law. That means there are specific rules that must be followed in such cases. A qualified Allentown wrongful death lawyer can assist you in bringing such a claim. At the O’Donnell Law Offices, we represent families who have lost loved ones due to the reckless and negligent acts of others. We can help you during this difficult period in seeking justice.
How Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work in Pennsylvania
A “wrongful death” is one caused by a “wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence” by another person or persons. Basically, a wrongful death claim may be brought if a person died for any of the following accident:
- an accident caused by negligence;
- medical malpractice; or
- an intentional criminal act (i.e., homicide).
Under Pennsylvania law, the personal representative (or executor) of the victim’s estate has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the personal representative fails to act within six months of the victim’s death, however, any beneficiary of the victim’s estate may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of all of the beneficiaries. No other person can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is important to note that a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against a defendant who is, or has previously faced, criminal prosecution for the same death. In other words, if the victim died as the result of a homicide, the estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the killer independent of any criminal prosecution. It does not matter if the defendant was acquitted or never charged with a crime, because wrongful death is a civil matter that requires a different burden of proof than a criminal case.
Indeed, the purpose of a wrongful death case is not to punish the defendant by sending them to jail, but rather to collect monetary damages on behalf of the victim’s estate and its beneficiaries. Pennsylvania’s wrongful death law allows a court to award any of the following damages:
- the victim’s hospital, medical, funeral, and burial expenses;
- the income the victim would have been expected to earn had they lived;
- compensation for the loss of the victim’s household services and companionship to their spouse, children, and parents.
- the expenses of administering the victim’s estate.
Contact the O’Donnell Law Offices Today
Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations in wrongful death cases. So it is important not to delay in seeking legal advice if you are thinking about pursuing a claim. If you need to speak with an experienced Allentown wrongful death lawyer, contact the O’Donnell Law Offices today to schedule a free initial consultation.