A wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the actions—whether indirect or direct—of another person. Wrongful death claims can be complex and difficult, since they are typically high value actions that result in large awards to the family of the decedent. Because of this, insurance companies and at-fault parties fight tooth and nail to derail such actions, and they often employ aggressive legal representation to ensure that any payout coming to deserving families is minimized. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, you owe it to your family to get the best possible legal help with your wrongful death claim. SMA Law Group and our Westmoreland County wrongful death attorney offer knowledgeable and expert counsel for families who have lost a spouse, parent or child due to someone else’s careless regard for human life. Contact us as soon as possible following the death of your loved one to begin the process of holding the at-fault party accountable financially.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is the result of a person dying or being killed because of the negligence or misconduct of another person. This can include murder. Surviving family members of the victim may sue the responsible party for wrongful death. Often these types of lawsuits follow criminal trials, using similar or even the same evidence but having a lower standard of proof. A person found liable for wrongful death does not have to be convicted of a crime associated with that death – for instance, in a civil trial O.J. Simpson was found liable for the wrongful death of the two murder victims that he was found not guilty of murdering in his criminal trial.
A wrongful death is typically caused by the same type of actions that would be used as support of a personal injury claim. In other words, a wrongful death claim is basically a personal injury claim in which the injured party is no longer able to file a claim themselves.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only a personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death suit on the behalf of the beneficiaries of the deceased person’s estate. If the personal representative does not file a suit within six months of the date of death, then any of the beneficiaries may file the claim on the behalf of all of the beneficiaries. This typically includes spouses, children, parents, or any next of kin the deceased may have.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
Damages for a wrongful death claim may include:
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Hospital/medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Compensation for the loss of household services, companionship, and comfort provided by the deceased
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Estate administration expenses