If your loved one died in a preventable accident, a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer at Morelli Law Firm is ready to help you fight for the financial compensation you deserve. Our legal team wants to help you hold the liable party accountable for your loved one’s death if their actions or inactions caused it.
Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can review your case for free and explain what legal options you have to pursue compensation on behalf of your loved one. Should you decide to work with us, one of our lawyers can start building your case to get you the compensation you need.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a type of personal injury case. When someone harms someone because of negligence or deliberate action, victims can make a claim for financial compensation to cover the costs of the injury. A simple example is a fatal car accident.
However, if the victim dies, then they obviously cannot sue. Furthermore, the survivors of the family are robbed of economic and emotional support from their loved one. This deserves compensation, and that’s why wrongful death cases exist.
The rules for wrongful death are similar to other personal injury claims, but there are some unique features. This is why you need a wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia on your side to help you through the process. Morelli Law has the attorneys you need.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Pennsylvania?
The law allows the personal representative of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. This claim is a lawsuit that helps remedy the pain and suffering the victim, and the victim’s family have endured.
Pennsylvania law 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8301(b) states that the following persons may be eligible to file a wrongful death case:
- The spouse of the decedent
- The child of the decedent
- The parent of the decedent
42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8301(a) states that you may pursue a wrongful death claim for damages as long as there has not been a previous claim filed and all the damages you are seeking are consolidated under one claim.
Basically, this law prevents a duplicate recovery. Under these circumstances, you are eligible to file a civil suit for wrongful death.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases
Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations that requires you to file a lawsuit sometime within two years after your loved one’s death, per 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. There are some exceptions that could affect your deadline.
If this limitation expires, you may be unable to pursue compensation from the at-fault party, so it is crucial to get help from skilled and experienced wrongful death attorneys. You can also check with your attorney to determine whether extenuating circumstances apply that could extend the deadline in your case.
Our Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorneys Want to Help You Fight for Damages
According to 42 Pa. C.S.A. §8301(c), surviving family members may be entitled to receive compensation for various damages on behalf of their late loved ones. Our legal team can assess your damages and help you calculate their value. By doing so, we can gauge how much compensation you may be entitled to collect.
We aim to account for each loss you and your family have suffered so that we can reach an accurate estimate for your case. Our Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys can factor future losses based on your current circumstances so that you do not risk underestimating the value of your case and having to pay for future damages out of your own pocket later on.
Types of Compensable Damages
Wrongful death damages can cover a wide range of losses, including:
- Medical debt: Medical bills can include costs for hospitalization, emergency room care, surgeries, prescription medicines, medical equipment, and other medical care your loved one received up until their death.
- Funeral costs: Regardless of whether your loved one had a life insurance policy in place, we can fight for compensation for the costs of arranging funeral services for your loved one. This also includes costs for burial or cremation services.
- Loss of financial support from your loved one: If your loved one was a financial contributor to the family, we can pursue compensation related to their income, meaning income you lost because of their death and income you expect to lose because they are no longer present to contribute to the family. Income loss also includes loss of benefits and pensions if that was included in your loved one’s salary package.
- Loss of companionship or parental guidance: This is an emotional loss experienced by spouses or children who are now emotionally affected by their loved one’s loss. This accounts for losing a relationship with your loved one that provided emotional support, love and affection, wisdom, and future guidance on life decisions.
- Pain and suffering: If your loved one suffered physical or emotional pain up until their death, we may factor this damage into your compensation. Additionally, the grief your family may be suffering can also be accounted for when calculating your damages.
- Property damage: If the accident that led to your loved one’s death involves property damage, such as to their vehicle, we can pursue compensation to cover the costs of repairing or replacing any damaged property.
Splitting Wrongful Death Settlements in Philadelphia
When you file a personal injury claim, it’s clear that the person filing the claim is the one who will receive the compensation. However, wrongful death claims can be much more convoluted, since many family members may be entitled to a portion of the settlement or court award.
Pennsylvania intestate law dictates who gets the money in a Philadelphia wrongful death lawsuit. The hierarchy is as follows:
- When the decedent has no surviving parents and no children, but is married, their spouse gets 100% of the wrongful death settlement.
- If the deceased person has children but no surviving spouse, the entirety of the money is split evenly between the children.
- If the deceased person has surviving parents but no spouse or offspring, the money is split evenly between the parents.
- When the deceased person has a surviving spouse and children, the majority goes to their spouse. The spouse gets $30,000, plus half of the remaining compensation, with the other half of that post-$30,000 amount, split evenly between the children.
- Finally, if the deceased person has surviving parents and a spouse but no children, the majority goes to the spouse. They get the first $30,000 and half of the remainder, while the other half of that post-$30,000 amount is split between the parents.
Essentially, the law favors the spouse, then the children, and then the deceased person’s parents.
What If There Is a Will?
Wrongful death claims intersect with personal injury law and probate law. If your loved one had the foresight to have a will created before they died, then the instructions in the will may override the order of who gets access to the compensation from a wrongful death claim.
If you know there is a will, let your wrongful death lawyer know. They can review it and let you know how it will affect the case if you win. Your lawyer can also take steps to start the probate process for your loved one, which will open the estate of the deceased and start settling their final debts.
Let Us Manage Your Case While You and Your Family Grieve in Peace
Our Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers will work diligently to build a strong case for you so that you can find closure and move on. Some of the things we will do to pursue the monetary compensation you may be eligible for include:
- Investigating your loved one’s accident or cause of death to identify the liable party or parties
- Gathering evidence to support your case, which can include video footage, the accident or autopsy report, and eyewitness testimony, among other types of information
- Communicating with all relevant parties, such as insurance companies or the liable party’s legal representative
- Filing all critical paperwork promptly so that your claim is valid
- Managing negotiations and attending meetings to advocate for your financial interests
- Taking your case to trial, if necessary, and presenting your case to a judge and jury
- Providing legal advice throughout your case whenever you have questions or legal concerns
Our mission is to exhaust every resource to treat your case fairly. You deserve fair compensation for the suffering you have endured. We understand this is a painful loss, but you can begin to find closure through a wrongful death suit.
Negligence and Fault in Philly Wrongful Death Cases
Gathering evidence of fault is a crucial part of handling a successful wrongful death claim in Philadelphia. That’s because Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative negligence system when determining the total amount of compensation to award.
According to the law, you can sue for compensation as long as your loved one was no more than 50% responsible for the injuries that led to their death. However, any amount of fault attributed to them will reduce the compensation available to you by an equal percentage.
For example, suppose your loved one’s total damages come to $100,000. If the court finds that they were 10% responsible for the accident that ultimately led to their death, the court will also reduce the total compensation available to you by 10%. This means you would get a maximum of $90,000 rather than the full amount.
By presenting multiple avenues of evidence to show the other parties’ fault, our Philly wrongful death attorneys can help increase your eventual court award or settlement.
Our Fee Agreement System
At Morelli Law Firm, we advocate for those who have faced injustice, so we understand you may be hesitant to hire a lawyer due to your current financial circumstances. However, we want to encourage you to speak and work with us for the following reasons:
- We do not charge any attorney’s fees unless we win you compensation.
- We discuss all our fees during your free consultation before you agree to work with us, and there is no obligation to do so.
- Because we discuss our terms with you beforehand, you do not have to worry about surprise fees later on.
- Our fees get taken out of your compensation award, so you never have to pay for our services out of pocket.
Again, we will describe our terms in further detail during your consultation so that you can make an informed decision. We want to ensure our clients are confident in their relationship with us, so we aim to be as transparent about our services as possible.
Our Legal Team Helps Families in Various Types of Wrongful Death Cases
You may wonder how a wrongful death can occur. They are always tragic when they happen, but they are more common than you may think. In addition to fatal car accidents and nursing home cases, here are a few additional causes of wrongful death:
Medical errors represent a shocking number of fatalities every year. The research indicates that medical mistakes lead the list of causes of death in the United States.
According to John Hopkins University, one-third of the deaths in the U.S. are due to medical mistakes. If your loved one was subject to a medical error, a wrongful death attorney from our team is ready to help.
Workplace accidents often lead to fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the construction industry leads the way in fatal occurrences of workplace accidents. Some of these involve equipment malfunctioning, falling, electrocutions, or other issues.
Sometimes, products malfunction. When they do not work as planned, they can be harmful, leading to a fatality. Some products may collapse or fall on someone, injuring or crushing them. In these cases, a wrongful death claim is probable.
These are a few reasons you may file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia can help you build your case.
Contact Our Attorneys Today for Help With Your Wrongful Death Claim
At Morelli Law Firm, our wrongful death lawyers in Philadelphia will go to every length to see justice prevail. Get in touch with our team for a free, no-obligation case consultation.