Common Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Wrongful Death Attorney

By VSCP LAW

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:

  • protect the privacy of the client;
  • avoid disclosing information “off the record” while actually being recorded;
  • discuss the case in a way that does not harm the outcome of the case;
  • speak plainly (avoiding “legal speak”) so that a national audience can understand the issues;
  • spot reporters’ “tricks” and avoid saying something “headline worthy” that actually harms the case.

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.

 

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