Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one under any circumstances is difficult and heartbreaking. Losing a loved one to a preventable death is unimaginable and only serves to compound this pain. If you lost your loved one due to the negligence of another, call Wilk Law.
At Wilk Law, our experienced wrongful death attorneys obtain compensation for suffering families, helping them pay for medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. While we know that no amount of money can ever replace your loved one, Wilk Law’s attorneys will stand beside you, listen to you, and fight to achieve your legal goals.
Wilk Law’s wrongful death attorneys are:
- Empathetic and compassionate;
- Capable and resourceful; and
- Responsible and honest.
Let Wilk Law fight to hold any negligent parties responsible for the death of your loved one. We will handle all aspects of your wrongful death claim so you can focus on healing. Contact us today in Montgomery County at (855) 946-3678, and learn about our free legal consultation and client-focused approach to legal services.
A Montgomery County Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
It takes a strong wrongful death claim to succeed against an insurance company, and building a strong wrongful death claim takes time, experience, and resources. Our experienced Montgomery County injury attorneys at Wilk Law can make the difference in your claim’s success. We work tirelessly doing the following, and more, on your behalf:
- Handling all insurance company calls and correspondence;
- Thoroughly investigating the cause of your loved one’s death;
- Gathering all relevant evidence surrounding the death;
- Reviewing any medical records with experts;
- Obtaining needed expert witness testimony;
- Speaking with your family to determine the effect of the death on your life;
- Documenting all death-related expenses at present and in the future;
- Aggressively negotiating a full and fair settlement with the insurance company; or
- Proceeding with litigation and trial, if no settlement is forthcoming.
Contact Wilk Law to discuss building your wrongful death claim. If cost is a concern, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only collect fees when we recover compensation for you.
Is It a Wrongful Death Claim or a Survival Action?
A wrongful death is a death due to the negligent or wrongful act of a person or company. A wrongful death claim is a legal action family members of the deceased file for the losses they suffered and will suffer in the future because of their loved one’s death. This is different from a survival action; however, the two are usually filed simultaneously.
A survival action is a lawsuit for expenses and losses suffered by the deceased due to the accident or injuries. These expenses and losses are from the time of the accident to the time of death. A person with legal standing acts on behalf of the deceased to file a survival action.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim or Survival Action in Montgomery County?
A member of the immediate family may file a wrongful death claim. Or, any named beneficiary from the will may file a wrongful death claim. This includes non-relatives and charitable organizations. However, only parents, children, or a spouse can receive compensation from a wrongful death claim.
The personal representative of the estate must file a survival action. If the personal representative does not file the survival action within six months, then any of the beneficiaries can file the action.
Compensation in a Montgomery County Wrongful Death Claim or Survival Action
Compensation families seek in a wrongful death claim are the types of support the deceased provided financially, in the household, morally, and through affection and love. This includes any of the following:
- Medical care;
- Love; and
Survival actions compensate for the deceased’s losses such as:
- Medical bills and hospital expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages from the time of injury to the date of death;
- Mental and emotional trauma;
- Funeral costs; and
- Estate administration.
How Much Compensation is Available in a Montgomery County Wrongful Death Case?
There is no set amount of compensation available to loved ones who have lost someone due to the negligent actions of others. Rather, the total amounts of compensation awarded will vary depending on several factors. Some of these factors will include:
- The age of the deceased
- The education level and occupation of the deceased
- How long away a person was from retirement before their death
- The lifestyle experienced by the deceased and family before death occurred
- The total level of medical bills associated with the death
- Pain and suffering endured by all involved
- Whether or not there was any shared fault for the incident
A skilled attorney will work with trusted medical and economic experts who can help calculate total losses adequately.
How Long do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Montgomery County?
Every state sets a time limit for how long family members and estates of deceased individuals have to file wrongful death lawsuits. In Pennsylvania, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of death (Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. § 5524 (2021). Any claim filed past this two-year time frame will likely result in the court refusing to hear the case at all, which means the estate and surviving family members will not recover the compensation they are entitled to.
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in the Commonwealth, you need to consult with a skilled wrongful death and personal injury lawyer immediately. These claims are complicated, and the lawyer can explain how this time frame can affect your case, as well as whether or not you are able to move forward with your claim at this time. Do not make any decisions before seeking legal advice.
How Wrongful Death Claims Arise in Montgomery County
Wrongful death claims arise in a wide variety of ways in and around Montgomery County, PA. When we examine the actual wrongful death statute in the Commonwealth, we can see that these claims arise when a death is “caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another” (42 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. § 8301 (2021).
That does seem like a fairly confusing definition, but you are likely familiar with many of the ways that wrongful death claims arise. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Car accidents
- Commercial trucking accidents
- Bus accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical negligence
- Premises liability incidents
- Defective product incidents
- Dog or animal attacks
- Intentional acts of violence
Most wrongful death claims arise as a result of negligence or the mistakes of another individual or entity. However, these claims can also arise if a person loses their life because another individual committed a crime (shootings, stabbings, etc.).
Wrongful death claims are not criminal cases. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania are responsible for filing criminal charges against individuals, but the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim against the same individual if they do face criminal charges. A person does not have to be found guilty in order for a wrongful death claim to be viable, and a claim can move forward even if charges are dropped. Additionally, if prosecutors choose not to bring charges against a person responsible for a death, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can still file a wrongful death claim.
The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in Montgomery County
There are various elements of a wrongful death claim that must be in place in order for a case to be successful. If any of these four elements are not present, the personal representative of the estate will likely not win their case.
- Duty. The first step is establishing that there was a duty of care owed by the defendant (the person alleged to have caused the death) to the deceased. A duty of care will look different depending on how the incident occurred. For example, doctors and other medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. This means they must uphold a certain standard of medical care. Drivers on the roadway owe a duty of care to every other individual around them, those inside of the vehicles as well as pedestrians. This duty of care requires them to operate their vehicle safely at all times.
- Breach. After establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the defendant, it must be shown that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care to the deceased. Just like there are many ways for a duty of care to be established, there are certainly various ways that this duty can be breached. Drivers can breach their duty by failing to obey traffic laws or operating while distracted or impaired. Property owners could breach their duty of care by failing to clean up a spill or by not preparing a stairway known to be defective.
- Causation. Simply showing that there was a breach of duty is not enough to win a case. It must be shown that a breach of duty directly led to the injuries that caused the person’s death.
- Damages. Finally, it needs to be established that the estate and the survivors of the deceased suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the death. This can include funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical bills, lost income, loss of household services, loss of companionship, and a range of other expenses.
What Documents of Evidence do You Need to Keep?
There is a variety of types of evidence that need to be kept by the estate and the survivors of the deceased after a death occurs. This includes evidence related to the cause of death if that type of evidence is available (photographs taken at the scene, video surveillance, statements from eyewitnesses, accident reports, etc.).
Family members and the personal representative of the estate must also keep track of any proof of financial losses. This can include pay stubs, tax returns, letters from employers, medical bills, proof of expenses caused by the death, and more.
Contact a Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you have questions about qualifying for wrongful death or survival actions, contact an experienced Lower Merion attorney like ours at Wilk Law. Letting Wilk Law handle your legal matters saves your family the added stress and strain of battling with insurance companies over the compensation you need and deserve.
There is no risk in contacting Wilk Law today at (855) 946-3678. Our wrongful death attorneys will gladly meet with you in Lower Merion, or anywhere you feel most comfortable.