Did You Lose A Loved One In An Accident?
Our law firm can help your family with care and compassion
Losing a friend or relative is never easy, but it's especially challenging when that death happens in an accident. In an instant, your family is left grieving - and wondering how to move forward.
Taking legal action can't bring your loved one back, but getting an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side can help provide for the people left behind. At Marcus & Mack, we've been serving Pennsylvania families for decades, and we would be honored to help you as well.
Wrongful death claims are difficult and complicated. We can help.
Under Pennsylvania law, a wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury claim filed on behalf of someone who has died. In order to have cause to file a wrongful death claim, the death must have been caused by another person's wrongful or unlawful acts or negligence. This may include deaths in auto accidents, due to violence or in a wide variety of other circumstances.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death, there may be criminal charges filed by the government as well. However, a wrongful death claim is a civil case that is distinct from the criminal case. Because the burden of proof is lower in civil court than in criminal court, you may be able to recover financial compensation even if the person responsible for the death is acquitted of criminal charges. Moreover, the defendant in the criminal case and the civil case may not be the same as the defendant in the civil case. For instance, when a person is killed in an act of violence, the person who actually committed the homicide may face criminal charges, while the owner of the premises where the homicide happened may be held liable in civil court due to negligent security.
Who may file a wrongful death claim?
In Pennsylvania, wrongful death claims must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person's estate on behalf of the beneficiaries of that estate. If the personal representative does not file a claim within six months of the death, any beneficiary of the estate may then file a claim on behalf of all of the beneficiaries.
What is a wrongful death claim worth?
Damages (financial compensation) in wrongful death cases are fundamentally divided into two categories. Some damages are recovered on behalf of the estate to compensate for losses that the decedent (deceased person) sustained due to his or her final illness and death. Those damages may include:
- Medical expenses for the decedent's final illness.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Estate administration expenses.
- Lost income during the final illness and death.
- Pain and suffering prior to the death.
Because these damages are awarded to the estate, they are subject to estate taxes.
The second category of damages awarded in wrongful death cases compensates the surviving family members for their losses due to the death. These damages may include:
- Loss of household services provided by the decedent
- Loss of care, companionship, guidance and comfort
- Loss of financial support
- Emotional anguish related to the death
These damages are awarded directly to the beneficiaries and are generally tax-exempt.
We understand that you may not want to contact an attorney during this difficult time. But the reality is that filing a wrongful death claim may be an important step towards getting compensation your family deserves for your loss. And it's important to act quickly - the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania is two years in most cases, but it's best not to wait that long. Evidence disappears, witnesses' memories fade, and it can be more difficult to get the justice your family needs.
Our attorneys would be honored to help your family move forward. Call (866) 881-9883 for a free, confidential consultation.