Wrongful Death Attorney: Finding the Best Legal Representation

By VSCP LAW

Wrongful Death Attorney: Finding the Best Legal Representation

The success of your wrongful death lawsuit depends in large part on your wrongful death attorney. Wrongful death litigation is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for a lawyer who has little or no experience in handling a wrongful death claim. Indeed, it is only through a highly-experienced wrongful death lawyer that you will obtain the best compensation for negligence and wrongful death, whether that’s through a high jury verdict after a wrongful death trial or an agreed-upon amount as the result of a wrongful death settlement. Either way, it’s the seasoned wrongful death attorney who will help you in your wrongful death case.

But how can one find an experienced lawyer for their wrongful death case? What should one look for in their search for the best legal representation?

A seasoned wrongful death attorney will take on many essential roles in their advocacy for wrongful death victims. Here is just a sampling of the many roles your wrongful death lawyer takes on for you.

EVIDENCE GATHERER and INVESTIGATOR

In order to determine whether you have a valid wrongful death claim, your wrongful death lawyer must investigate the circumstances before, during, and after your loved one died. How do they best investigate the event? By gathering as much evidence as possible to prove your case. Examples of such evidence include: autopsy, toxicology lab reports, police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificate, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death. The attorney also has to talk to you, other family members, and any possible witnesses. They often have to hire experts to help them investigate your claim.   

Let’s say your loved one died in a fatal vehicle accident in Philadelphia. Your wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia might go to the site of the accident – often with an expert – and document the physical conditions of the road, the surrounding streets, the traffic lights, etc. All of these environmental conditions could help determine liability in the accident. Your Philadelphia wrongful death attorney might also scour police reports, eyewitness accounts, emergency response team notes, and any related medical records. Wrongful death attorneys in Philadelphia will ensure that they understand all circumstances leading up to the fatal injury, and the circumstances that followed the fatal injury. This thorough investigation will ensure that there are no surprises at trial and they can build the strongest wrongful death case on behalf of your deceased loved one.

ANALYST

Once the attorney has collected a sufficient amount of evidence, they then have the difficult task of piecing all of these items together to establish that the defendants did something that they shouldn’t have done or that they did not do something that they should have done. They also need to establish that the defendants’ actions or failure to act caused your loved one’s death. The quality of this professional-level analysis is what leads to a successful (or unsuccessful!) outcome for your wrongful death case. An experienced wrongful death attorney is the best legal representative for you because they understand the factual and legal issues of a wrongful death case and will help you get the best compensation for the case.

CONSULTANT

Throughout your wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to make significant decisions that will affect the outcome of your case. The decisions might be related to who would be the best administrator or executive of your loved one’s estate; which family photos, videos, or personal items of your deceased loved one would be the best to show the jury; whether you should accept the first settlement offer from the defendants or stay the course and go to trial. Your wrongful death attorney can guide you and advise you so you can make the best possible decision at every turn.

REPRESENTATIVE

Insurance companies, hospitals, defendants’ lawyers – these are just some of the parties your wrongful death attorney will speak to on your behalf. Your attorney will represent your interests in these various important conversations that occur during the course of your lawsuit.

ADVOCATE

Your wrongful death attorney will be your zealous advocate throughout the case. During depositions, hearings, and trial; while filing motions; or while talking with defendants’ lawyers on the phone – before, during, and after your lawsuit, your attorney has your back. They will advocate for you so that you win the case and collect the greatest possible amount of wrongful death damages.

TEAMMATE

Your lawyer is on your side. They want to help you achieve justice and get compensated to the full extent of the law. They will help you and support you and encourage you. They will be accountable to you. And they will expect you to help out when you can (for instance, when they ask for information, you give it to them). Together, you and your wrongful death attorney can look forward to a successful outcome of your case.

LAWYER

This role may seem obvious, but it should not be overlooked because it’s one of the main reasons you sought help from a wrongful death attorney. Lawsuits cannot take place without specialized knowledge of the various laws in Pennsylvania, including the statute of limitations, the laws of intestacy, negligence, evidentiary rules, procedural requirements, and the wrongful death statute. That your attorney has a Juris Doctor degree is what separates them from literally anyone who doesn’t – your attorney is legally qualified to represent you in a court of law.

You could literally lose your right to file a lawsuit in the first place by failing to adhere to the Pennsylvania statute of limitations. Under the law, your Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney will have to file the lawsuit no later than two years from the date of death.    

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death lawyers in Pennsylvania will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as emergency room 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 a Pennsylvania wrongful death 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 can occur in the medical malpractice context. It provides that if a plaintiff is fraudulently 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 might argue that they have more than two years from the date of death. The plaintiff could have as much as 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.

The following example may help illustrate why acting swiftly in the event of a loved one’s death is essential.

Let’s say that someone was in a fatal motor vehicle accident on January 1, 2024. Under the law, technically, the loved ones of the decedent could file the wrongful death claim by January 1,

  1. But it would be very unwise to wait until this date, which is the last legal moment to do so. What if, for example, it took six weeks to obtain an autopsy report and two weeks for the police report and then it took the lawyer two months to hear back from the only eyewitness who had been out of the country. Investigating the circumstances of the fatal accident could take several months. And if the investigation takes several months, then contacting the attorney near the day the statute of limitations expires won’t allow the attorney the necessary time to investigate. Therefore, you must contact the attorney as soon as you can, after your loved one dies.

And it’s not just the fact that attorneys need time to investigate the cause of the accident. It’s also that certain pieces of evidence need to be preserved as soon as possible. Examples of this kind of time-sensitive evidence includes: the vehicles that the decedent and the defendant were driving; photos and videos of the accident, which may be in the possession of eye witnesses, local businesses, or highway cameras; police reports; eye witness statements; and emergency room records.

Thus, if someone was killed in a fatal accident on a certain date, the family should not wait a significant amount of time after that to proceed. They should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that the lawyer can begin the arduous tasks of collecting and preserving time-sensitive evidence as well as analyzing all of the evidence.

Find the best legal representative to take on your wrongful death case and do it now. To consult with a wrongful death attorney who will be your evidence gatherer, investigator, analyst, consultant, representative, and teammate — and who will zealously advocate for you – contact the attorneys at VSCP Law.

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