Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Philadelphia: A Complete Guide 2024

By VSCP LAW

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Philadelphia: A Complete Guide 2024 (reg website)

If your loved one died as the result of someone’s wrongful conduct, you may be able to sue that person in a wrongful death lawsuit in Philadelphia. A successful wrongful death lawsuit may conclude with a wrongful death settlement or a favorable jury verdict. But how do you get from the beginning stages of the wrongful death litigation to the resolution?

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, the court may appoint a personal representative called an “administrator.” An administrator of an estate may be a surviving spouse, other family member, or family friend. The administrator collects all the assets of the decedent, pays creditors, and distributes remaining assets to heirs or other beneficiaries.
If your loved one died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” has similar responsibilities to the administrator in that they must collect assets, make sure all debts and taxes are paid, and then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with law and the will.

The other important function of an administrator or an executor is the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

PURSUE AND PRESERVE CRITICAL EVIDENCE

How do you know what actions must be taken early in the process of your lawsuit with regard to critical evidence? Your wrongful death lawyer has handled countless cases and knows exactly what you need to do. One of the first essential steps is to order an autopsy on your deceased loved one if one is necessary. 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. It is imperative that you help your lawyer gather these necessary pieces of information to the extent that you can. The presence or absence of this evidence will determine whether your wrongful death claim is successful or not.
HIRE THE RIGHT (AND BEST) EXPERTS
Your wrongful death case is likely complicated. It will require expert review and analysis. In a medical malpractice wrongful death case, for instance, your attorney will have to find a doctor that is trained in the same practice of medicine in which the defendant doctor practices. In other words, if your loved one died as the result of a medical error by a cardiac surgeon, your wrongful death lawyer will find you an expert in the field of cardiac surgery. Your experienced wrongful death attorney has access to experts across the country and they will ensure that the most qualified experts review your case and write a detailed expert report to bolster your claim in court.
FILE THE COMPLAINT, INCLUDING ALL NECESSARY CLAIMS
A wrongful death attorney evaluates the case with knowledge of all possible causes of action and claims for wrongful death damages. They know how to work with bereaved families to help them achieve a fair outcome for their wrongful death claim.
Your wrongful death lawyer will work with you to establish the extent of your damages and to make sure that the Complaint that they file contains all possible causes of actions and claims for damages so as to maximize the amount of compensation you receive in your wrongful death settlement.

THE COMPLAINT MUST BE FILED IN A TIMELY MANNER

Every state has its own wrongful death statute of limitations (which is the time period in which you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit). Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, for instance, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
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 a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia as soon as possible after your loved one dies.
DISCOVERY AND TRIAL

After the Complaint is filed, there is a sometimes lengthy process called “discovery,” where the lawyers on both sides gather and exchange evidence. This is the period in which depositions (recordings of sworn testimony) are taken. After the discovery period has concluded, your wrongful death attorney prepares to go to trial.

The trial may take anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on how complicated the case is. Some trials can last longer than that. Sometimes, the case settles before or during trial. If the case doesn’t settle before the jury returns with their verdict, then it’s the verdict that determines the outcome of your wrongful death trial.

An experienced wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia can walk you through all the important steps. Find one now at VSCP Law.

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