How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help Surviving Family Members
Wrongful deaths under the law are deaths that should not have happened. The difference between a death due to natural causes or unavoidable illness, and a loss of life that was preventable, is profound. Wrongful deaths can devastate families financially and psychologically.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help families hold together after these tragedies, and possibly help prevent the fatal circumstances from harming others. If you know you need to speak with a wrongful death lawyer, contact D’Amico Law Offices today at (412) 652-9300. We’re a family-run firm that understands the needs of survivors after an unexpected or avoidable death.
For more information on what qualifies as wrongful death, who can file a wrongful death suit, and why it’s important to pursue such cases, read on.
Table of Contents
- What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Case?
- Who Can File Wrongful Death Suits?
- How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
- What Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Mean for Survivors?
- How Can I Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today?
- Wrongful Death FAQs
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Case?
What is a wrongful death case according to the law? The elements that are required to bring a wrongful death suit are:
- A death caused by another party’s negligence, or their intent to cause harm
- Monetary injuries, meaning financial losses caused by or related to the death, for surviving family members or legally recognized dependents
- An official representative for the deceased person’s estate (like a surviving spouse, an inheriting child, or in some instances if no one else comes forward, a creditor)
Wrongful deaths could be caused by occupational exposure at work (like in cases of asbestos cancer). Lawsuits for wrongful death could be brought after a fatal auto injury due to a car accident. Wrongful death suits could also be brought in personal injury situations, or as part of a medical malpractice case.
If you have questions about whether your situation qualifies as wrongful death, contact D’Amico Law Offices to get the answers you need right away.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Suits?
A wrongful death action cannot be filed by just anyone who knew the deceased, no matter how intimately their lives were entwined. The law varies state-to-state, and could allow the following people to file:
- A decedent’s personal representative: In a few states, only the person assigned authority over the estate may file, regardless of family status or blood relation.
- A surviving spouse, child, or parent: By default in many states, those with immediate family ties to the deceased person (including adoptive children or parents) have the right to sue for wrongful death.
- Domestic partners, stepchildren, grandparents, grandchildren, or siblings: Some states allow legally recognized family members to file, even if they are not part of the traditional family unit.
- Lineal descendants and other “interested” parties: Relatives as far down a deceased person’s lineage as great-grandchildren, or the descendants of the deceased person’s siblings, may sometimes file if no closer relative comes forward.
D’Amico Law Offices operate largely in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In Pennsylvania, wrongful death claims must be filed by the decedent’s personal representative, and the settlement amount must be distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with “intestacy” laws, which determine inheritance distribution if there is no will. West Virginia is similar, requiring a personal representative of the estate, but leaving more discretion to the court for fair and reasonable financial distribution of settlements or damages awards.
Because these rules vary so widely depending on your location, we advise you to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to understand your unique options. We also encourage prompt action, because time is of the essence.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
There are statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims. This means that your window to file a wrongful death suit may be limited to anywhere between 1-6 years, depending on the state you live in, and the date you discovered (or should have discovered) the cause of the decedent’s death.
Such filing exceptions can be seen in other areas of personal injury, like medical malpractice cases. The limitations are put in place to ensure evidence is brought to court while it is still fresh. This is done in an effort to make the fairest judgment for all parties concerned. Additional time for discovery of injuries or causes of death is allowed in some circumstances, however, to help make sure you aren’t cheated of your day in court.
Wrongful death attorneys are also here at D’Amico Law Offices to help make sure your case and all the relevant evidence is filed on time for the best possible outcome.
A statute of limitations may limit the time you have to file a wrongful death suit — depending on your location, this window of opportunity could be anywhere between 1-6 years.
What Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Mean for Survivors?
Settlements or damages awards that result from wrongful death lawsuits have the potential to help make families whole again. While there is no replacing the individual spark of a life lost, there are still tangible benefits that can be recovered via the law.
Potential benefits from wrongful death suits could include:
- Coverage for medical bills, including emergency and life-saving care that may have been given after the fatal injury
- Replacement of lost wages and employment benefits, considerations that are critical to families who have lost their main breadwinner
- Financial payment for pain and suffering, especially the anguish and long-lasting grief experienced after an untimely death
- Punitive aka “punishment” damages that are charged to wrongdoers by a judge, and then awarded to the survivors of the deceased—these may help ensure that the negligent behavior which caused a death is never repeated again
- Final expense funds, including those involved with funeral, burial, and estate settlement costs
Whatever your needs or losses, a wrongful death attorney from D’Amico Law Offices can help translate them into figures the law can understand. In doing so, we seek the best settlement possible to help ensure your family’s future health and stability.
How Can I Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today?
Because time is limited, and because your need to go on living doesn’t stop when a tragic death occurs, engaging a wrongful death attorney should be a top priority. With one phone call, you can empower a diligent professional to file all the necessary paperwork on your behalf, and meet each deadline so that you receive the consideration you deserve.
The wrongful death lawyers at D’Amico Law Offices operate a family-run firm. We dedicate our practice to making sure those who are injured are not left behind or brushed aside. That includes injuries which lead to unnecessary and unacceptable losses of life.
Call us today at (412) 652-9300, or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. A consultation is free and confidential, and it may take a heavy burden of worry off your shoulders right away.