West Chester, PA Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstance. But it becomes even more painful when that loss is caused by someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing. This is what is known as “wrongful death”. It means that because of the actions of another person or party, the life of someone close to you was cut short. Beyond the emotional pain, families often face big financial struggles, from medical bills that were incurred before the death to funeral costs to lost income.
At Kingbird Legal, we understand that dealing with the untimely loss of a loved one can be overwhelming, and we are here to help families navigate through these difficult times. Our team is dedicated to standing by your side, making sure you get the support and justice you deserve. We handle all of the legal aspects of your case, and we will work hard to get the best outcome possible for you and your family.
Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in West Chester, PA
As we talked about earlier, wrongful death is a legal term used to describe the situation when a person dies as a result of another party’s negligence or reckless actions. It is a civil cause of action, meaning that it is a lawsuit filed by the deceased’s family members or other loved ones against the person or entity responsible for the death.
While wrongful death is similar to other personal injury cases in that it can be caused by negligence or wrongful acts, there is one major difference. In a wrongful death case, the deceased person is no longer alive to pursue a claim on their own behalf. Instead, the claim is filed by the deceased’s family members or other loved ones.
Wrongful death claims in West Chester, PA are governed by the Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 8301-8306. This Act allows certain individuals to file a claim on behalf of a deceased person. These individuals include the deceased’s spouse, parents, children, and siblings.
The Wrongful Death Act also sets forth the damages that can be recovered through a legal claim. These damages include:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of income/support
- Loss of consortium
- Medical and hospital expenses incurred by the deceased prior to their death
- Punitive damages (in certain cases)
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in West Chester, PA
Wrongful deaths can happen anywhere, and understanding their common causes is the first step toward prevention and seeking justice for the bereaved. Here are some of the most common ways that tragic events like these may occur:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of wrongful death in West Chester and throughout Pennsylvania. Each year, thousands of people are killed in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
Motor vehicle accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Distracted Driving: Diverted attention from texting or phone calls can lead to devastating collisions.
- Drunk and Drugged Driving: Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal accidents.
- Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions can escalate the severity of a crash.
- Reckless Driving: Aggressive driving tactics, such as tailgating or not yielding the right of way, can lead to fatal consequences.
- Hazardous Road Conditions: Issues like potholes, unmarked construction zones, or poor signage can lead to tragedies.
Defective products can also cause or contribute to wrongful deaths. When a product is defective, it can malfunction and cause harm to users. Examples include:
- Children’s Toys: Faulty design or toxic materials can prove lethal.
- Medical Devices: Implants or devices that malfunction can have dire consequences.
- Household Appliances: A short circuit or design flaw can cause fatal injuries.
- Power Tools: Malfunctions or design flaws can result in grievous injuries or death.
- Vehicles: Cars or trucks with defective parts or flawed designs can lead to fatal crashes.
Premises Liability Accidents
Premises liability accidents occur when someone is injured or killed on another person’s property. These accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Slip and Falls: Wet or uneven surfaces can be treacherous.
- Defective Stairs: Missing handrails or uneven steps can lead to fatal falls.
- Swimming Pool Accidents: Lack of barriers or supervision can result in drownings, especially among children.
- Dog Bites: Unrestrained or aggressive dogs can cause fatal injuries.
Work-related accidents can also lead to wrongful death. Examples include:
- Construction Accidents: Falls from heights or machinery malfunctions can prove deadly.
- Factory Incidents: Equipment mishaps or exposure to toxic substances can lead to fatalities.
- Mining Accidents: Cave-ins or gas explosions can have tragic outcomes.
- Transportation Accidents: Workers involved in transport face risks from collisions or equipment failures.
Medical negligence is another common cause of wrongful death. This occurs when a medical professional fails to meet the standard of care and this failure results in the patient’s death. Examples include:
- Misdiagnosis: Incorrectly identifying a condition can lead to improper treatment.
- Failure to Diagnose: Missing a critical diagnosis can have deadly repercussions.
- Surgical Errors: Mistakes during surgeries can lead to fatal complications.
- Medication Errors: Administering the wrong medication or dosage can prove lethal.
Navigating the Challenges in West Chester, PA Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims can be complex and challenging to pursue. There are a number of hurdles that must be overcome in order to succeed with this type of claim, including:
Proving Negligence and Liability
Establishing negligence is pivotal to winning a wrongful death claim in West Chester. It is not simply about proving that the defendant acted wrongly, but that their actions (or inactions) directly resulted in the death. This underscores the importance of:
- Evidence gathering: This includes collecting accident reports, witness statements, medical records, and any other documentation that can strengthen the case.
- Expert testimony: Professionals, especially in the fields of medicine or engineering, can provide insights into how negligence played a role.
Anticipated Wrongful Death Defenses
Defendants and their attorneys often employ various strategies to diminish their liability or deflect blame altogether.
- Comparative negligence: They might argue that the deceased had a role in causing the incident, thereby reducing potential compensation.
- Act of God: Claiming the event was unforeseen or unavoidable.
- Lack of evidence: Challenging the proof and its relevance to the case.
Statute of Limitations
In Pennsylvania, there is a relatively short window of time during which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. Generally, this period is two years from the date of death. However, there are exceptions and nuances that can extend or reduce this timeline. Missing this window can bar the family from seeking damages, and this is why it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney early on to ensure that all deadlines are met.
Contact Our Knowledgeable and Compassionate West Chester, PA Wrongful Death Attorney
The loss of a loved one due to wrongful death is a devastating experience, with surviving family members and friends left to grapple with intense grief, emotional stress, and financial hardship. At Kingbird Legal, we want you to know that you are not alone in this struggle. While no amount of money can ever truly compensate you for the untimely loss of your loved one, obtaining financial compensation can help ease your burden and ensure that those responsible for the death are held fully accountable. Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.
Kingbird Legal specializes in representing personal injury victims in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, catastrophic injury cases, wrongful death, premises liability (“slip and fall”) accidents, medical malpractice and defective product cases.