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Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful Death Claims in Philadelphia

The loss of a loved one is an overwhelming tragedy. After a death in the family, you may find that, in addition to your grief, you are burdened by medical bills for your loved one’s treatment and funeral expenses, as well as losing a household income and other financial contributions.

When your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, you may want to obtain justice on their behalf. The best way to do this is by filing a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim that lets you pursue compensation to deal with the financial consequences of the death. It is also a way to hold the person responsible for the death accountable.

While no amount of compensation can make up for your loved one’s death, the last thing you should be concerned with during such a difficult time is how to cope with the financial hardship caused by the tragedy. The experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller are here to deal with the legal technicalities of filing a claim to help your family seek the compensation you need to move forward with your life.

Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyers get $227 Million Settlement in Market Street Building Collapse Case

The Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller were able to help conclude a long civil trial stemming from the 2013 building collapse on Market Street, with a $227 million settlement believed to be the largest personal injury settlement in Pennsylvania history. The jury returned a unanimous verdict and decided the Salvation Army was 75 percent responsible for the building collapse that led to the death of seven people and the injuries of 12 other victims.

A team of lawyers from four law firms, including Steven G. Wigrizer and Jason S. Weiss from Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller, represented survivors of the deceased victims and victims injured in the collapse. Steve Wigrizer and Jason Weiss represented the families of two victims, the family of Mary Simpson and the family of Roseline Conteh.

The jury agreed with the argument the wrongful death attorneys presented that the two individuals who were criminally prosecuted were held only 1 percent responsible for the collapse, and the Salvation Army was primarily responsible for the loss of life and trauma of all victims.

This civil trial settlement not only provides relief to the victims, it also sends a strong message to businesses that safety should always be a top priority.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Although the only way to know whether you have a wrongful death claim is to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney, there are some elements common to most cases. To win a wrongful death case, Pennsylvania law requires proving the other party was at fault and was responsible by showing the following:

  • The party who caused the injuries resulting in death had a responsibility to not injure the deceased, failed to live up to that responsibility, and a death occurred.
  • There is a connection between the other party’s responsibility and the death due to negligence or intent to harm.
  • The surviving family members suffered damages, or a financial loss, as a result of the death.

Wrongful death is caused by an act of negligence, not a criminal act like murder. When someone is negligent in fulfilling some duty owed to your loved one – such as correctly diagnosing a disease — even without intent, the result may be a preventable death.

Finding out Whether you have a Wrongful Death Claim

Our attorneys can determine whether you have a claim after meeting with you. We offer a free legal consultation to review aspects of your case such as:

  • Are you an eligible family member or beneficiary of the deceased?
  • Is there evidence that someone else’s negligence led to the death?
  • Can you show current or future financial losses as a result of the death?

Our compassionate attorneys will pursue compensation aggressively, so that you may begin to recover from the financial repercussions of your loved one’s death and begin to focus on healing emotionally without the financial burden on your shoulders. Contact us online or call (215) 569-0900 to set up your free consultation.

Causes of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death can be the result of many types of accidents, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability (slip-and-fall)
  • Construction site accidents.
  • Product liability (defective products)

No matter the cause of your loved one’s death, you deserve a compassionate Philadelphia wrongful death attorney who will aggressively pursue the negligent party and help your family begin to heal. Accident victims’ families deserve experienced legal advice after losing a loved in a fatal accident. If you are considering a wrongful death action, contact our team today.

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Wrongful Death Attorneys Will Determine Whether You Have a Lawsuit

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a wrongful death claim is most commonly filed by the spouse or dependent children of the victim. In some instances, parents, siblings, and family members who relied on the victim may also file a claim. Our wrongful death lawyers in Philadelphia can help you determine whether you have a right to file a lawsuit and what damages to ask for.

Determining damages in a wrongful death claim is not an easy task. You cannot possibly put a price on the worth of your loved one’s life, but you’ll be asked to do just that for the purposes of your claim. The accidental death attorneys at Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller know how difficult this process can be.

We will work closely with you to help develop a settlement that takes into account all of your damages, including:

  • Related medical expenses
  • End-of-life expenses
  • Projected future income
  • Projected future financial contributions such as mortgage and tuition
  • Loss of a loved one.

It is important to remember that even if a negligent party is cleared of criminal charges, they may still be responsible for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Our Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys will help you establish your case and fight to get you the full compensation you need to face the trying years ahead.

What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Case

Philadelphia Wrongful Death LawyersAccording to Title 42, Chapter 83 of the Pennsylvania General Statutes, Section 8301  a wrongful death is one that is “caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.” Since the deceased cannot bring a claim, it must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the estate’s beneficiaries.

If the personal representative does not file the wrongful death claim within six months of the date of death, any of the beneficiaries may file the claim on behalf of all the beneficiaries.

1. The Process of a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death cases are complicated, and the process can involve several steps that may take time to resolve, including:

Investigating and gathering evidence and, if necessary, consultation with experts to conduct investigations to determine responsibility

Discovery. After a wrongful death claim is filed with the court, there will be a “discovery,” where the attorneys seek information from one another about the case through written questions, requests for documents and evidence, and depositions.

Making and Answering Pre-Trial Motions. Before trial, both attorneys may make legal motions and arguments about disputes, how evidence was gathered or preserved, details about the complaint or answer, and they may even argue that you should win the suit without a trial.

Determining Damages. Your attorney will determine . . .

  • Economic damages, i.e., expenses which can be objectively calculated, such as medical and end-of-life costs, property damage, and funeral and burial costs.
  • Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium, which are more subjective and more likely to be contested.

Settlement or Trial. If your Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer can negotiate a settlement out of court, the costs of your case and the time it will take will be reduced. If not, the case will proceed to trial, where arguments are given by both sides, a verdict is rendered, and damages determined.

Appeal. If you or the other side is not happy with the verdict, the decision can be appealed by your wrongful death attorney.

2. Time Limits

Pennsylvania has a statute of limitation that allows two years from the date of an injury or death to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system or it will not be heard by the court unless some exception applies.

The Pennsylvania survivor statute states that if a claim began during the decedent’s lifetime, that person’s estate may recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of gross earning power from the date of the injury until death, and loss of earning power, less personal maintenance expenses from the time of the death through the decedent’s estimated working life span.

Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by the Personal Representative of the estate of the deceased. If a wrongful death lawsuit is not filed within six months after the death, any beneficiary may file on behalf of all the beneficiaries.

Due to the time limits, it is important to speak to a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Wrongful death cases are complicated and can take time to come to completion, especially if a trial is necessary. Fortunately, many cases are settled out of court, which can shorten the time to months, instead of the possibility of years which can happen with a trial.

Damages in a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Case

In a civil case like a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant’s liability is expressed solely in terms of money damages. Damages that may be available in a successful Pennsylvania wrongful death claim include:

  • funeral and burial expenses
  • hospital and medical expenses
  • estate administration expenses
  • lost wages and benefits, including amounts the deceased reasonably would have been expected to contribute to their family’s support
  • compensation for the loss of household services, society, and comfort provided by the deceased, including provision of both physical comforts and services and moral guidance, comfort, and support
  • compensation for pain and suffering, loss of love, affection, and consortium for the surviving spouse, and loss of guidance, inheritance, moral upbringing, advice, love, and support for the deceased’s children
  • punitive damages to punish the defendant if actions were particularly egregious or willful.

Damages like loss of comfort, companionship, and guidance are intended to compensate the surviving family members for their losses related to the untimely death and are available only to a surviving spouse, children, or parents.

Damages like funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and estate administration expenses, however, are compensated even if there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents.

In determining damages, considerations will be made for questions such as the kind of job the decedent had, what the earnings prospects were for the future, and how this would add up over the person’s life expectancy.

There is no cap on the amount of damages for a wrongful death claim except for punitive damages, which cannot exceed two times the amount of compensatory damages.

What to Expect For a Settlement

Wrongful death settlements vary greatly and can range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, based on factors including:

  • The type of accident, circumstances of the death, and the damages sustained
  • The age and earning potential of the victim
  • Whether or not the victim survived for a lengthy period of time after the accident occurred
  • The limits of the insurance policy held by the at-fault party
  • The legal issues involved, the strength of the evidence, and the need for expert witnesses
  • The individual judge, court and jury
  • The skill and experience of your Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer.

There are many different factors at play when determining how much you should seek in your wrongful death claim. You want to be sure that you are demanding payment that accurately reflects the challenges you and your loved one have faced. At Wapner Newman, a personal injury lawyer will thoroughly review your situation to help you determine how much you are owed and what legal option might best yield the financial compensation you are entitled to.

Choosing a Wrongful Death Attorney

When choosing a wrongful death lawyer, consider:
  • Trial experience
  • Experience pursuing cases with circumstances similar to yours
  • Whether the attorney works on a contingency basis (no collection of fees until you win compensation)
  • Whether the lawyer answers your questions in an honest and straightforward manner.

Choosing the right wrongful death attorney is essential in order to maximize your chances of pursuing a successful case. In the midst of such an overwhelming crisis, you should never settle for an attorney who makes you feel uneasy; choose one who takes the time to make you feel comfortable and informed and who is actively engaged in your case.

There are many options available when searching for a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that all those options will offer you the same level of service. At injury law firm Wapner Newman, we have proven that we will devote the full resources of our firm to getting our clients results. However, we want the chance to tell you in person how we can help. We offer free consultations, so we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a case evaluation with our team.

Wrongful Death 101

Contact An Experienced Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence or wrongdoing in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and you are looking for a Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer you can trust, please contact Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller today at (215) 569-0900 to schedule a free case evaluation. We represent wrongful death victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we have offices in Philadelphia, West Conshohocken, Allentown, and Marlton.