Stroudsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer
Many people fail to realize that — in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, as in other cities and states — when a loved one has died due to the fault of another, then the family members may be able to sue and recover damages for wrongful death. In Pennsylvania, wrongful death is considered to have occurred when someone is accidentally killed through the negligent, wrongful or unlawfully violent actions of another. The best way to learn your rights is to contact a Stroudsburg wrongful death lawyer as soon as you are ready to do so.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania?
Wrongful death claims are brought by the surviving family members of the deceased. The claim for damages is based on the losses suffered by the family members — not the losses suffered by the deceased. For example, the surviving spouse of the deceased may have suffered a variety of losses as a result of their spouse’s wrongful death, such as emotional distress and the loss of their spouse’s significant financial support.
Not every person who is meaningful to the deceased is entitled to recover wrongful death damages, however. Pennsylvania has certain rules to ensure that only a limited subset of surviving family members can sue and recover damages.
A Stroudsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Fight for Your Compensation After a Criminal or Negligent Act
Losing a loved one is often a traumatic experience for many people. However, when someone dies due to another person’s actions (or inactions), the level of grief can be greatly increased. Wrongful death actions in Pennsylvania can arise from someone else’s negligent act (i.e., a car crash), an intentional act (i.e., a violent crime) or medical malpractice.
Our Stroudsburg wrongful death attorney is prepared to handle any wrongful death case regardless of the cause. If your loved one died due to a violent crime, it is important to note that your claim will not be affected by whether or not the accused individual is actually found guilty of that crime. Similarly, if the accused person is convicted, that finding does not automatically mean a win for you and your family in the wrongful death case.
The criminal defendant (i.e., the accused individual) can face both criminal charges for your loved one’s death and a civil wrongful death claim. For example, if your loved one gets hit in the head while someone else is committing a robbery or during an altercation that is occurring at the scene of that crime, and your loved one eventually dies due to that head strike, a wrongful death claim can be filed in civil court while the criminal charges are being handled in criminal court.
Who Can Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Pennsylvania law gives the right of recovery to certain surviving beneficiaries: the children, parents, and spouse of the deceased. This does not require blood relation (formally adopted relatives are functionally equivalent in this respect). It’s worth noting that others may be entitled to wrongful death damages if they can demonstrate that they were sufficiently financially dependent on the deceased.
Importantly, a wrongful death claim is only actionable if the defendant engaged in negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct that caused your loved one’s death. That your loved one died is not enough to give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit — you must show that the defendant engaged in wrongful conduct that resulted in your loved one’s death.
Proving Liability for Wrongful Death Claims
- 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 your loved one’s income, you’ll be unable to pay your living expenses.
Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Claims
In Pennsylvania, the deceased’s spouse, parents, or adult children may file a wrongful death claim. The only other person who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania is the deceased’s personal representative. This type of suit aims to recover damages the surviving relatives suffered as a result of the death. Damages can include medical bills up to the date of death, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of the individual’s love, companionship, guidance, and financial support. The plaintiffs (i.e., the harmed individuals) receive these damages directly.
In a survival claim, however, the goal is to compensate the deceased person’s estate for the losses suffered by the individual prior to death. This may include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and property damage costs. The damages in a survival action are similar to the damages the individual may have received if the accident had not resulted in a death. Damages go to the deceased’s estate for distribution, not directly to surviving family members.
Wrongful Death Claims for Children
Wrongful death claims for children present unique circumstances because of the uncertainty of calculating damages. However, our Stroudsburg wrongful death lawyer is skilled and experienced at estimating and calculating future damages.
Circumstances Contributing to Wrongful Death Claims
The most common wrongful death or survivor claims are caused by accidents involving:
Though the above are the most typical events that can lead to a tragic loss, our firm also assists with the following wrongful death claims:
- Swimming pool accidents. Hundreds of children drown each year in public and private swimming pools. Some of these pools are not properly maintained, fenced, or lack proper supervision or warning.
- Amusement park accidents. Amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals are meant for fun, but negligent maintenance, dangerous conditions, or poorly maintained and inspected rides can lead to serious consequences.
- Fatal dog attacks. Dozens of people are killed by dangerous dog attacks or even packs of dogs each year. Many of the victims are either the elderly, children or the infirm.
- Dangerous prescription drugs. Deaths due to medication errors, prescription drug errors, and overdoses are constantly increasing in the U.S.
- Fireworks accidents. Everybody knows that fireworks can be dangerous and that many people who misuse them are injured or killed each year, especially around Independence Day. However, some fatal fireworks accidents are the fault of the fireworks company, the seller, or the entity putting on the fireworks display.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania?
What many grieving families do not realize is that Pennsylvania law places a statute of limitations on when survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most circumstances, those claims must be filed within two years of the victim’s death. Any lawsuit filed after that is considered time-barred under Pennsylvania law.
This time limit is critical because sometimes, establishing that a person was killed through a negligent or wrongful action can be more difficult than expected. For example, wrongful death accident lawsuits involving aircraft or boats may require the use of specialized experts who may take time to sort through mountains of evidence in order to reconstruct an accident. Additionally, potential witnesses who need to be interviewed may have relocated. Our Stroudsburg wrongful death attorneys will do all we can to retrieve the evidence you need — you just need to contact us.
Our Stroudsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer Explains Compensation Options
Damages that you may be entitled to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- Medical expenses that you paid for the deceased
- Funeral expenses that you paid for the deceased
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium (marital relationship)
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of domestic services
- And more
For example, suppose that you lose your mother to a motor vehicle accident in Stroudsburg that was caused by the defendant driver’s negligent operation of their vehicle. You lived with your mother, who provided both financial support and domestic services to you and your family. You could sue and recover damages for the lost financial support that you are no longer being provided, as well as the value of the lost domestic services that were provided, among various other damages (i.e., lost love and affection, lost companionship, etc.).
Consult With an Experienced Stroudsburg Wrongful Death Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have nearly a century of combined experience litigating wrongful death claims, personal injury claims, and medical malpractice claims. We are committed to providing personalized legal advocacy, and from the beginning of the litigation process, we make ourselves available 24/7 to answer any questions our clients may have. We work tirelessly to ensure that we provide effective representation while keeping our strategic objectives aligned with those of our clients.
As litigators, our wrongful death attorneys respect and understand the role that one’s emotional state plays in the litigation process — wrongful death lawsuits are not only challenging from a legal perspective, but they are also emotionally challenging. Clients may be struggling with the grieving process while simultaneously attempting a wrongful death lawsuit. Given these difficulties, it’s important that wrongful death claimants work with attorneys who are capable of navigating litigation in a way that obtains favorable results without needlessly extending or exacerbating the hostility of the process.
Call 570-421-8119 today to connect with a Stroudsburg wrongful death attorney here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC. The initial consultation is free, and we will assess your claims to determine whether you are entitled to recover damages for wrongful death.
We look forward to speaking with you.