Wrongful Death Archives -

It is essential to know who represents the estate prior to filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Connect with your wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia so they can help guide you through the confusing rules. Below is a selection of frequently asked questions (and corresponding answers) about wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

WHAT IF THERE IS A WILL?

If the decedent died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” or “executrix” represents the estate of the decedent. This executor or executrix may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

WHAT IF THERE IS NO WILL?

If the decedent died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member would be assigned personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a close friend or someone else to be a personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Whether a family member or not, the personal representative appointed by the court is called an “administrator” or “administratrix.” This administrator and administratrix may file a wrongful death suit.

WHO ELSE CAN SUE?

No one. Other than the court-appointed administrator or the will-stipulated executor (both referred to as the “personal representative”), no one else may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

WHAT DOES THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE HAVE TO DO BEFORE FILING THE WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?

Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the administrator or executor must “raise an estate” (or “open an estate”). They must go to the Register of Wills, armed with various documents such as a death certificate, a will (if there is one), valid ID, etc. The process can be complicated depending on whether there is a will, whether the will is contested, etc. Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia can walk you through the necessary steps so that you have what you need to file the wrongful death lawsuit.

WHEN DOES THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE HAVE TO FILE THE WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, the personal representative has two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.

Two years may seem like a long time, but the wrongful death attorneys will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding the decedent’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to talk with various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to the death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, the personal representative should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

WHO COLLECTS COMPENSATION FROM THE WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, there is a limited selection of individuals who can collect wrongful death damages in Pennsylvania. The beneficiaries, and the specific percentages, are set by Pennsylvania statutes.

You should hire a wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia to help you with all of the difficult stages of the claim, including these very preliminary ones. To talk with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact the lawyers at VSCP Law.

If you believe your loved one has died as the result of the actions or omissions of someone else, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand what you should expect in your initial meetings with a wrongful death lawyer.

GATHER INFORMATION

When you meet with a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia, try to have with you documents that will be necessary in determining whether you have a viable case. Documents that may be necessary include: death certificate, decedent’s work history, will, and medical records. Your wrongful death attorney will also want to review your loved one’s personal items, like their cell phone, which may have pictures, videos, emails, texts, and other media which may help establish their health and well-being prior to their death. All of this data, while admittedly personal, can help to build the wrongful death case. Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia has the difficult task of piecing all of these items together to establish liability on the part of the defendants, as well as to build the damages portion of the case.

IDENTIFY THE PLAINTIFF

The “plaintiff” is the person who has the right to sue — that is, to bring the wrongful death case. Your Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney will need to figure out whether you can be the plaintiff. Only personal representatives of the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

If the decedent died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” or “executrix” represents the estate of the decedent. This executor or executrix may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

If the decedent died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member would be assigned personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a close friend or someone else to be a personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Whether a family member or not, the personal representative appointed by the court is called an “administrator” or “administratrix.” This administrator or administrator may file a wrongful death suit.

Thus, if you are either the administrator/administratrix or the executor/executrix, you will be able to be the plaintiff and file the wrongful death lawsuit.

SIGN FORMS

Once it has been established that you are a personal representative (again, either an administrator or executor), you will have to sign various forms so that your Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can file the lawsuit. The forms will give the wrongful death lawyer the right to obtain life insurance information, financial reports, employment records, and medical records to prove your case.

But before the Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer can use any of these forms to obtain all that crucial information, you need to sign a Contingent Fee Agreement with them. This agreement establishes the client-attorney relationship. It stipulates that you, the client, do not need to pay the lawyer anything upfront. The lawyer will assume all the costs and expenses to build and try your case. The lawyer only gets paid back for all of those costs and expenses (and all of their time and effort) if the lawsuit is successful. So, in the event of a successful outcome, a portion of the award goes to your wrongful death lawyer.

To find a wrongful death lawyer in Pennsylvania who will build and try your case successfully, contact the attorneys at VSCP Law.

Wrongful death cases can be quite complicated. There are legal requirements related to filing an estate, the timing of your claim, and what damages you can claim. There are often complex medical records to review and understand. And there are the decisions – the countless decisions – that have to be made regularly to ensure that your case will have a successful outcome. Here are some ways in which a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia can help you prove your wrongful death case.

FILING A TIMELY LAWSUIT

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations. 

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorney will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to talk with various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.

Wrongful death attorneys in Philadelphia understand the immense grief associated with wrongful death lawsuits, and will do everything in their power to work with you and ease your burdens during the stressful time after your loved one’s death.

SETTING UP AN ESTATE 

It is essential to know who represents the estate prior to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

If your loved one died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a personal representative called an “administrator” or an “administratrix”.

If your loved one died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” may file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia will help you figure out who should represent the estate.

PRESERVING CRITICAL EVIDENCE 

A wrongful death attorney knows what actions must be taken early in the process such as, ordering an autopsy on the decedent. And when ordering the autopsy, an experienced wrongful death attorney knows whether to order toxicology along with the autopsy. Toxicology includes a search for chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. Obviously, this autopsy must be done prior to the burial or cremation so your wrongful death attorney will act swiftly to ensure that all necessary actions are taken before the decedent is buried.

Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death.

HIRING THE RIGHT (AND BEST) EXPERTS

Your wrongful death case is likely complicated. It will require expert review and analysis. Your wrongful death attorney has access to the best experts in the country and they will ensure that the most qualified experts review your case and write an ironclad report to bolster your claim in court.

HELPING YOU RECOVER MONEY DAMAGES

A wrongful death attorney evaluates the case with knowledge of all possible causes of action and claims for wrongful death damages.

Under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, there are two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are quantifiable, the exact figure can be established with documentation. They include lost wages, medical expenses, burial and funeral costs, and estate administration costs.

Non-economic damages are not quantifiable – they are more of a subjective assessment of the sad consequences of a wrongful death. They include loss of companionship and pain and suffering.

A wrongful death attorney can help you with all of the difficult stages of your lawsuit. To talk with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact the lawyers at VSCP LAW (www.vscplaw.com). 

 

If your loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or omissions, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. A wrongful death case cannot be successful without the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney. Read on to learn the top five reasons you should hire a wrongful death lawyer.

5. Your Wrongful Death Lawyer Will Help You Set Up an Estate 

It is essential to know who represents the estate prior to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

If your loved one died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a personal representative called an “administrator” or “administratrix”.

If your loved one died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” or “executrix” may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia will help you figure out who should represent the estate.

4. Your Rights to File the Lawsuit Will be Protected

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.  

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorneys will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to talk with various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.

Wrongful death lawyers in Philadelphia understand the immense grief associated with wrongful death lawsuits, and will do everything in their power to work with you and ease your burdens during the stressful time after your loved one’s death.

3. They Will Help You Retain Critical Evidence

A wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia knows what actions must be taken early in the process such as, ordering an autopsy on the decedent. And when ordering the autopsy, an experienced wrongful death attorney knows whether to order toxicology along with the autopsy. Toxicology includes a search for chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. Obviously, this autopsy must be done prior to the burial so your wrongful death attorney will act swiftly to ensure that all necessary actions are taken before the decedent is buried.

Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death.

2. You Will Need Top-Notch Expert Review

Your wrongful death case is likely complicated. It will require expert review and analysis. Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia has access to the best experts in the country. Your wrongful death attorney will ensure that the most qualified experts review your case and write an ironclad report to bolster your claim in court.

1. Your Complaint Will Include All Necessary Claims for Compensation

A wrongful death attorney evaluates the case with knowledge of all possible causes of action and claims for wrongful death damages.

Under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, there are two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are quantifiable, the exact figure can be established with documentation. They include lost wages, medical expenses, burial and funeral costs, and estate administration costs. 

Non-economic damages are not quantifiable – they are more of a subjective assessment of the sad consequences of a wrongful death. They include loss of companionship and pain and suffering. 

You should hire a wrongful death attorney to help you with all of the difficult stages of the claim. To talk with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact the lawyers at VSCP LAW (www.vscplaw.com).

If you believe your loved one died as the result of the actions or omissions of his or her health care providers at a hospital, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand what steps you should take to sue a hospital who may be liable for your loved one’s death.

1) HIRE A LAWYER. 

The first thing you should do is find a medical malpractice attorney — or a wrongful death attorney who has experience trying medical malpractice cases. This lawyer will be able to make sure you abide by all the necessary regulations, such as the wrongful death statute and the wrongful death statute of limitations. When you meet with this lawyer, you must provide as much information as you can about the circumstances before, during, and after your loved one died. That will enable your lawyer to evaluate the viability of the claim – that is, whether the claim is likely to be successful in court.

You should find medical malpractice lawyers who will take your case on a contingency basis. That means that the attorney gets paid contingent on the case being successful (either winning a plaintiff’s verdict at trial or receiving a payment through a settlement agreement). In a contingent based case, you don’t pay any money to the attorney to try your wrongful death case. When the case resolves in a successful verdict or settlement, the attorney is paid a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount.

2) PRESERVE RECORDS

It is imperative that all necessary records are preserved and not inadvertently destroyed. There are certain actions that must be taken early in the process such as ordering an autopsy for the decedent (which needs to take place before burial, obviously). Toxicology reports may be ordered as well – toxicology measures the amounts and types of chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. 

Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include medical records, intake forms, labwork, prescription slips, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death (eg, prescription bottles, medical devices, etc).

Make sure you hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer so that they can guide you on how best to retain critical evidence, the addition or absence of which could determine the success (or failure) of your lawsuit.

3) IDENTIFY ALL RESPONSIBLE PARTIES 

Your wrongful death attorney will review all of the records and – with your help – identify all possible responsible parties. There may not be only one person whose negligence caused your loved one to die – there may be multiple people who all played a part in the tragedy. It might have been a nurse who handed the wrong tool to the surgeon. It may have been an assistant who was doing intakes in the medical office and wrote down the wrong information. It may have been the pharmacist who doled out the wrong dosage or potency of the medicine. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will know all of the parties involved and who should be added to the Complaint.  

4) SEEK EXPERT REVIEW

Your medical malpractice attorney has a collection of top-notch medical experts who can review the circumstances of the case and give an expert opinion as to the liability of the hospital and its staff. The expert has to be strategically selected – for instance, a cardiologist who has never operated on a patient should not give an expert opinion as to how to perform a quadruple bypass surgery. Your medical malpractice attorney will be able to find the perfect expert for your case. 

5) RESPOND TO YOUR LAWYER’S REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION

Your lawyer will need information from you during the process. Be readily available for your lawyer so that the lawyer can gather the necessary information exactly as soon as possible. Your lawyer will do most of the hard work to make sure your lawsuit against the hospital is successful, but your lawyer certainly needs your cooperation to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you wish to sue a hospital for wrongful death due to medical malpractice, contact the premiere medical malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia – VSCP Law at vscplaw.com  – for a thorough evaluation of your claim.

It can be devastating when you realize that your loved one’s death could have been prevented with proper medical care (in the healthcare setting) or proper care (in other settings such as the workplace, a commercial property, etc.). If you believe your loved one has died as the result of the actions or omissions of their health care providers or other individuals, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand the various categories of wrongful death damages that you can recover.

Under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, there are two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are quantifiable, the exact figure can be established with documentation. Non-economic damages are not quantifiable – they are more of a subjective assessment of the sad consequences of a birth injury. Read on for the list of categories of compensation that your wrongful death lawyers in Philadelphia can win for you:

ECONOMIC

Lost wages. If your deceased loved one was working and earning wages at the time of their death, you may be able to recover lost wages – that is, the wages that your loved one can no longer earn, in addition to the value of work-related benefits.  

Medical expenses. This category of compensation is related to the bills from the hospital, doctors, physical therapist, pharmacy, and any other healthcare service or provider that are related to your loved one’s death.

Burial/funeral costs. Burial, funeral, and all costs related to interment may be compensated. 

Estate administration costs. When someone dies, their property becomes an estate. The estate has to be administered which could include paying utilities, storage, monthly housing fees, and taxes related to the decedent’s property, as well as paying the person who is in charge of making all these payments from the estate.

Costs of living. These are the costs that the decedent would have spent to support their family members had they not died. These costs may include food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, and recreation.

NON-ECONOMIC

Loss of companionship, comfort, and society. Sometimes referred to as “loss of consortium,” this describes the loss of the benefits of having someone in your life. For a spouse of the decedent, this may include the loss of companionship, cooperation, affection, comfort, services, assistance, sexual relations, and emotional support. For a parent of a child who died, this may include the loss of the opportunity to witness certain milestones like walking, talking, riding a bike, and playing sports. For the child of a parent who died, this may include the loss of the deceased parent’s guidance, training, advice, education, care, comfort, moral upbringing, and emotional support.  

Pain and suffering. This category refers to the physical and emotional pain and suffering that the decedent underwent after the negligent action and before their actual death. Some pain is obvious because it’s accompanied by moans, groans, and/or winces; other pain is invisible because it’s experienced internally, but it is no less significant.

It goes without saying that no amount of money will take away the sadness you feel when your loved one dies. But, with the right wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia, you can at least rest assured that you will get the most compensation possible for your case.

If you believe your loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or inactions, contact VSCP Law at www.vscplaw.com.

 

If you believe a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or inactions, you may have a wrongful death case. Before you hire a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia, you should plan ahead so you can gather the information you need to make the best decision. The following are common questions you should ask before hiring a wrongful death attorney:

Do I have a Wrongful Death Claim?

While this question may seem obvious, it is definitely the first question to ask your wrongful death attorneys in Philadelphia. It’s important that you, as a client, understand the basics of the law and what information is necessary to provide in order for your attorney to prove the wrongful death claim. In order for the wrongful death lawyer to answer this question, you must provide as much information as you can about the circumstances before, during, and after your loved one died.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit after my loved one dies in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law allows you two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.  

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorneys will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to talk with various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.

Please provide examples of wrongful death cases you’ve worked on and successfully tried to verdict or settlement.

This may sound similar to the above question, but you should ask it separately because this request for specific information will help you distinguish between attorneys who may have worked on a handful of wrongful death cases in Philadelphia and attorneys who have worked on hundreds of wrongful death cases in Philadelphia. And not only should you request examples of wrongful death cases the attorney has tried, you should request to know the outcomes of these cases. Perhaps the wrongful death attorney has tried 50 wrongful death cases, but only 10 of them were actually successful (as in, resulted in monetary compensation for the plaintiff). Not only do you want an attorney who has tried many wrongful death cases, but you want an attorney who has tried many wrongful death cases successfully.

Do I have to pay you money up front to work on my wrongful death case?

You should not have to pay a lawyer up front to file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. You should find wrongful death attorneys who will take your case on a contingency basis. That means that the attorney gets paid contingent on the case being successful (either winning a plaintiff’s verdict at trial or receiving a payment through a negotiated settlement agreement). In a contingent-based case, you don’t pay any money to the attorney to try your wrongful death case. When the case resolves in a successful verdict or settlement, only then is the attorney paid a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount.

Have you ever had cases that were featured in the media?

Some wrongful death cases are considered high-profile or feature a public interest element, such that media (newspaper journalists, local or national news reporters, etc.) would want to cover details of the case. You want a law firm that feels comfortable communicating with the media and understands what they should say and what they should not say. A wrongful death lawyer who has good experience communicating with media knows how to:

What damages can I recover for my wrongful death claim?

An experienced wrongful death attorney can evaluate the information in front of them and, based on years of experience, make a reasonable estimation of how much a client may recover for their wrongful death claim. Of course, while the attorney is not able to predict an exact dollar amount, the attorney will likely give a range. Here is a list of the main categories of Pennsylvania wrongful death damages.

If you believe you or a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or omissions, contact VSCP Law at www.vscplaw.com.

 

When your loved one dies as the result of someone else’s actions or inactions, you may wonder whether their death could have been prevented. And, if so, you may wonder whether you have a possible wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand what you need to know about wrongful death lawsuits. 

APPOINTING AN ADMINISTRATOR OR ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE

It is essential to know who represents the estate prior to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

If your loved one died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a personal representative called an “administrator” or “administratrix.”

If your loved one died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” or “executrix” may file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia will help you figure out who should represent the estate.

THE ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT

In order to establish your wrongful death lawsuit, you need to prove:

 (1)  DUTY – The defendant had a duty to not harm your loved one. For example, motorists have a duty to drive safely and not hurt other drivers. And doctors have a duty to not harm their patients.

(2)  BREACH OF DUTY – The defendant breached their duty not to harm your loved one.

(3)  CAUSATION – The defendant’s breach of that duty to not harm your loved one increased the risk of death.

(4)  DAMAGES – Due to the defendant’s actions or inactions, your loved one died. Your loved one’s loss of life is only part of the damages. Your losses matter too. In the next section, read about possible compensation for you in your wrongful death lawsuit.

POSSIBLE COMPENSATION

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there are two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic. 

Economic damages are quantifiable, meaning that the exact figure can be established with documentation. Examples include medical invoices, pharmaceutical bills, and funeral costs.

Non-economic damages are not quantifiable – they are more of a subjective assessment of the sad consequences, such as loss of companionship, pain, and suffering, and emotional distress. Read this prior blog post for a more detailed review of the various forms of compensation. 

FILING YOUR LAWSUIT ON TIME

In Pennsylvania, the Estate of a deceased person only has two years after the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you don’t file the lawsuit during this window, you lose the right to sue. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. It is critical that you contact a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer as soon as you suspect you may have a lawsuit so that they can make sure you are able to file your lawsuit on time.

RETAINING CRITICAL EVIDENCE

There are certain actions that must be taken early in the process such as ordering an autopsy for the decedent (which needs to take place before burial, obviously). Toxicology reports may be ordered as well – toxicology measures the amounts and types of chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. 

Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death (e.g., prescription bottles, medical devices, etc).

Make sure you hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania so that they can guide you as to retaining critical evidence, the addition or absence of which could determine the success of your lawsuit.

If you believe you or a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or omissions, contact VSCP Law at vscplaw.com.

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

It can be upsetting when your loved one dies. It can be downright devastating when you realize that your loved one’s death could have been prevented with proper medical care (in the healthcare setting) or proper care (in other settings such as the workplace, a commercial property, etc.). If you believe your loved one has died as the result of the actions or omissions of their health care providers or other individuals, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand what constitutes a wrongful death suit and the timing for when you should file a wrongful death suit.

Whether You Have a Wrongful Death Claim

It may seem obvious, but the first question you should ask is whether you even have a case. If you believe that your loved one died as the result of the actions or omissions of others, you may have a wrongful death suit. When you meet with an attorney, you must provide as much information as you can about the circumstances before, during, and after your loved one died. That will enable your wrongful death lawyer to evaluate the viability of the claim – that is, whether the claim is likely to be successful in court — and your wrongful death damages.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim

If the decedent died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf after being appointed as the administrator (if male) or administratrix (if female) of the estate. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a personal representative called an administrator.

If the decedent died with a will, the person appointed in the will serves as the executor (if male) or executrix (if female) and this person may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

How Long Do You Have to File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.  

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorneys will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to interview various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.

An important exception to the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute is in cases of “fraudulent concealment.” This part of the statute provides that if a plaintiff is persuaded or lulled by the defendant medical care providers that the cause of their loved one’s death was not actionable in court because they did nothing wrong and/or concealed relevant facts from the plaintiff, the plaintiff doesn’t have only two years from the date of death. The plaintiff has two years from the time they discovered (or should have discovered) that the defendant’s actions or omissions could likely have caused their loved one’s death.

Wrongful death attorneys understand the immense grief associated with wrongful death lawsuits, and will do everything in their power to work with you to ease your burdens during the stressful time after your loved one’s death.

If you believe your loved one has died as the direct result of someone else’s actions or omissions, you may have a viable wrongful death lawsuit. Contact VSCP LAW at www.vscplaw.com for a thorough evaluation of your claim.

If you believe a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or omissions, you may have a wrongful death case. It’s essential to find a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney who has the necessary experience. Here’s why hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia is important:

You will be able to file the lawsuit and you will be able to retain crucial evidence

In every wrongful death case, time is of the essence. If your wrongful death attorney does not act efficiently and swiftly, critical information could be permanently lost or worse – you could lose the opportunity to file a lawsuit at all! You need to hire an experienced attorney who appreciates the time-sensitive nature of your wrongful death claim.

Statute of Limitations

In Pennsylvania, the Estate of a deceased person only has two years after the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you don’t file the lawsuit during this window, you lose the right to sue. This time limit is called a statute of limitations. An experienced wrongful death attorney will know the statute of limitations, when the time frame starts, and when to file a lawsuit so you are not barred from doing so. 

Retaining Critical Evidence

An experienced wrongful death attorney knows what actions must be taken early in the process such as ordering an autopsy on the decedent. And when ordering the autopsy, an experienced wrongful death attorney knows whether to order toxicology along with the autopsy. Toxicology includes a search for chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. Obviously this autopsy must be done prior to the burial so your experienced wrongful death attorney will act swiftly to ensure that all necessary actions are taken before the decedent is buried.

Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death.

Your likelihood of success is increased substantially 

Despite aggressive advertising to the contrary, many attorneys do not actually have experience working on wrongful death cases. Many law firms list “wrongful death” on their websites because they want people to come to them with wrongful death cases, but they don’t actually have any significant experience trying wrongful death cases. 

An experienced wrongful death attorney will have tried many of these cases in an actual courtroom. Taking a case from the beginning stages to verdict involves multiple levels of work and effort. With each case, the wrongful death attorney becomes more and more capable because they learn something new every time. And not only do you want an attorney who has tried many wrongful death cases, but you want an attorney who has tried many wrongful death cases successfully. So it’s not just experience, per se, that matters – success rate is important as well.

Your complaint will include all necessary claims for compensation

An experienced wrongful death attorney evaluates the case with knowledge of all possible causes of action and claims for damages. There are special statutes in Pennsylvania that apply to certain cases. An experienced wrongful death attorney knows which statutes apply to your case and how to craft your claim in the way that puts you in the best position to win. 

If you believe you or a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s actions or omissions, contact VSCP Law at www.vscplaw.com.