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How to Prove Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania

Jun 30, 2021 - Wrongful Death

The heartbreak and grief following the loss of a loved one can be literally overwhelming. The survivors are having enough trouble simply making arrangements without the thought of any type of legal claim. Nonetheless, a wrongful death claim may be critical to their futures. These survivors, such as spouses and children, may be dependent on the deceased person’s financial compensation.

If you have lost a loved one caused by some type of accident, for example, a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, or even medical malpractice, you’ll need a Stroudsburg wrongful death lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis, all of whom are skilled negotiators and experienced trial attorneys.

Who is Allowed to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Pennsylvania, wrongful death claims can only be brought by the “personal representative” of the estate. The personal representative may be an executor who was named in the deceased person’s will or another qualified person who will administer the estate, commonly a family member. Pennsylvania law provides the rules for determining and assigning personal representatives, who must be approved by the court. 

The personal representative files the claim on behalf of the eligible beneficiaries to whom any settlement or lawsuit compensation will be distributed. In Pennsylvania, the only relatives that are eligible to be beneficiaries are the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person. Even these survivors must demonstrate that they sustained financial damage as a result of the death.

How Do I Prove My Wrongful Death Claim?

The elements that plaintiffs must establish include:

  • Duty of Care. First, you must first show that the defendant owed your loved one a legal duty of care. This duty may change according to the circumstances of the case. For example, drivers owe other vehicle drivers, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, bicycle riders, or any other person with whom they share the roadways a duty to act as a reasonable driver and to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury to others on the road.
  • Breach of Duty. Second, you must show that the defendant breached the duty of care by, for example, driving negligently or carelessly. For example, drivers may breach their duty of care by running a red light, since a reasonable driver stops at red lights.
  • Causation. Third, you must show that the defendant’s breach is what caused your loved one’s death. Using the above example, you would need to show that the accident occurred because the defendant ran the red light and that the resulting accident caused the death of your loved one.
  • Damages. Finally, you need to show that you sustained actual loss as a result of your loved one’s death. For example, you can show that without the deceased person’s income, you’ll be unable to pay your living expenses.

A Stroudsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer Will Help You With Your Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death claims are difficult in many aspects and are fraught with deep emotions and life-altering concerns. If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident, contact a Stroudsburg wrongful death lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis for your free consultation, either online or at (570) 209-9307. We’ll handle your legal claim so that you have time to make arrangements and grieve appropriately.

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