What Leads To A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death cases provide a way for bereaved individuals to seek justice and compensation for an irreplaceable loss. These types of lawsuits stem from the unthinkable—the untimely death of a loved one due to another’s negligence or misconduct. A wrongful death lawsuit is a way to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Title 42, Section 8301 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes provides the framework for these claims. This statute is known as the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act. There have been notable wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania.  One such example was the collapse of Pier 34 in Philadelphia.  Pier 34 was an entertainment pier on the Delaware River and collapsed in 2000, resulting in the deaths of three women and injuries to dozens of others. The incident led to multiple wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, with the plaintiffs arguing that the pier’s owners and the city were negligent in the pier’s 6 maintenance and safety inspections.

Wrongful death lawsuits often result from a variety of tragic circumstances, including medical malpractice, product liability, criminal actions, and accidents. A wrongful death action typically consists of the following key components:

  • Death of a Person: The first and most fundamental element of a wrongful death claim is the death of an individual. The death must have been caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party.
  • Wrongful Act, Neglect, or Default: There must be evidence to establish that the death resulted from a wrongful act, neglect, or default of the defendant. This could involve various scenarios, such as a car accident, medical malpractice, a defective product, or intentional harm.
  • Causation: You need to prove a causal connection between the defendant’s wrongful conduct and the death of the decedent. In other words, you must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions were a substantial factor in causing the death.
  • Personal Representative: In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death claim must typically be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This representative is often named in the decedent’s will or appointed by the court through the probate process.
  • Beneficiaries: The damages recovered in a wrongful death action are meant to compensate certain beneficiaries for their losses resulting from the death. In Pennsylvania, eligible beneficiaries may include surviving spouses, children, and parents of the deceased.
  • Damages: Damages in a wrongful death case can include economic and non-economic losses, such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost income and benefits, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death.
  • Statute of Limitations: There is a specific time limit within which a wrongful death action must be filed in Pennsylvania. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is generally two years from the date of death.

It is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania if you believe you have a wrongful death claim. Contact Cooper Schall & Levy for a consultation and to help you navigate the specific laws and requirements, gather evidence, and pursue compensation that you might be entitled to.