Lancaster Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful Death Claims in Lancaster County
What is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal term for a death which is directly caused through the negligence or carelessness of another person or entity. Some examples of wrongful death include: a person who is killed by a drunk driver, death on a construction site due to a defective or unsound building or piece of heavy equipment, death due to nursing home negligence, death due to a defective or dangerous product, death due to a dangerous roadway, or even the failure to diagnose a fatal disease which directly leads to a death (medical malpractice wrongful death).
Wrongful death suits are almost always filed by family members of the deceased however, you may need a Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney to determine who has standing to bring the wrongful death action. Pennsylvania law dictates that a wrongful death claim be filed by the Personal Representative of the estate of the decedent. If the decedent left a will, the person named as executor is also the Personal Representative. If the decedent died intestate (without a will), a loved one could volunteer to be the Personal Representative, or the court can appoint someone.
Wrongful death suits are usually filed to recover expenses associated with the death including medical expenses and funeral bills, loss of wages the decedent would have earned, loss of companionship, care, protection, and even loss of inheritance. Wrongful death suits may also be filed to recover punitive damages, which are meant to punish those who have exhibited willful or particularly egregious acts of negligence, preventing them from harming others. In short, persons, companies and governmental agencies can be found legally at fault when they fail to act in a reasonable manner which results in death or act negligently or intentionally in a manner which leads to the death of a person.
How Ciccarelli Law Offices Can Help Following a Wrongful Death
The wrongful death attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices understand that losing a loved one is a profound and traumatic event and that no amount of money will make up for that loss. We also know that the financial situation of families who have lost a loved one can be significantly—and negatively—altered following a wrongful death. When a wrongful death occurs, the Personal Representative of the estate of the deceased has the authority to file a lawsuit against the responsible party and our firm has the experience and knowledge to handle the case from start to finish. Our firm has the unique ability to help all those who have been affected by the wrongful death of a loved one. We will provide assistance with legal issues which arise following a wrongful death and will aggressively pursue full financial recovery on behalf of our clients.
Wrongful Death Causes
Car accidents are one of the primary causes of wrongful deaths, particularly younger drivers. After car accidents, medical malpractice is the primary cause of wrongful deaths followed by slip and falls, workplace injuries, amusement park rides, boating accidents, and swimming pool accidents. CNBC estimates that as many as a quarter of a million people a year die as a result of medical malpractice (including adverse prescription drug reactions). According to mesothelioma.com, mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, causes at least 2,500 deaths per year. According to OSHA, construction accidents accounted for nearly 5,147 deaths in 2017. As you can see, wrongful deaths occur far too frequently across the nation and in Lancaster.
Automobile Accident Wrongful Deaths
Many causes of wrongful death include driver mistakes, whether negligent or accidental, faulty automobiles or substandard parts and roadways with flawed designs. It is important to know that wrongful death claims can have a very short window of time for the injured person to file a claim. Because of this, it is particularly important that those who have lost a loved one in a wrongful death contact an experienced Lancaster wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible. While a lawsuit will never bring your loved one back, it can make your future a little less difficult, financially speaking. Should the statute of limitations expires, you and your family could be left with no recourse for recovery, facing a lifetime of financial hardship. The wrongful death statute of limitations in the state of Pennsylvania is two years.
If an auto accident wrongful death was the result of a manufacturing defect, especially one the manufacturer knew about, but turned a blind eye to, the court may award extra reparation known as punitive damages. This monetary compensation is intended to dissuade the responsible party from ever repeating the actions or inaction which caused the wrongful death. Some common manufacturing defects which can lead to wrongful deaths include defective airbags, defective tires, roof crush during a rollover accident, defective seat belts, seat failure, or defective brakes. Other times, defective roadways which are poorly designed can be deemed to be responsible for a wrongful death.
How Could a Lancaster Poorly Maintained Roadway Cause a Death?
Generally, it is a governmental agency that is responsible for a poorly designed or maintained roadway, which leads to a wrongful death although the actual design firm may share some of the fault as well. In some states governmental agencies can be deemed immune from a wrongful death suit; recent federal laws have granted immunity from wrongful death claims to family members of a loved one who was killed in a railroad crash. In most cases, however, the government has a legal obligation to ensure all roadways are both properly designed and properly maintained to prevent harm to others.
When the state neglects to live up to these obligations and motorists who expect to drive on a safe, well-maintained roadway die as a direct result of this negligence, family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such issues as uneven pavement, inadequate traffic signals or signs, lack of warning signs which warn drivers of construction zones or other road hazards, potholes, brush which has not been cut and obstructs motorist’s view, and inadequate drainage can all cause a potentially deadly accident. Even a small pothole, left unattended to, can cause a vehicle to swerve out of control, hitting another vehicle or a fixed object such as a tree and causing death.
Determination of Lancaster Wrongful Death Compensation
When determining the amount of compensation the family members will receive for the wrongful death of their beloved family member, the courts will consider the decedent’s age, level of health and life expectancy, as well as the total economic loss, the amount of insurance coverage available and to what extent the remaining family members relied on the deceased for financial support. In many cases, compensation will also be awarded for damages which are considered non-economic such as the loss of companionship, guidance, and love. More specifically, you could be entitled to the following for the wrongful death of your loved one:
- All funeral expenses and burial expenses
- Medical expenses, including hospital expenses, Emergency Room expenses, surgical expenses and any other medical expenses related to the accident which caused the injuries and wrongful death
- Expenses related to estate administration
- Lost wages and benefits, including any amounts the decedent would reasonably have been expected to earn and contribute to the support of his or her family if the decedent had lived
- Compensation for the loss of household services the decedent would have contributed to his or her family
- Compensation for comfort, love, support and guidance the decedent would have contributed to his or her family
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Any other damages which will compensate the surviving family members for their losses which relate to the wrongful death of their loved one
- To ensure you receive an equitable amount for the wrongful death of your loved one, it is essential to speak to a knowledgeable Lancaster wrongful death attorney from Ciccarelli Law Offices. We have in-depth knowledge regarding product liability, motor vehicle regulations and accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, all Pennsylvania and local traffic laws, and even have extensive experience and knowledge with medical issues.
Lancaster Injury Lawyers—There When You Need Them
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster County wrongful death attorneys are here to help you following the tragic death of a loved one. If your loved one was killed as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you could have a wrongful death claim. We are fully aware that money will not make up for the loss of your loved one, however, particularly if your loved one was the primary wage-earner, you may be having a difficult time paying normal monthly expenses (not to mention the medical and funeral expenses). Our wrongful death attorneys are proud to represent all those in Lancaster County who have lost a loved one to negligence, including those living in Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, and Reamstown.
No matter where the wrongful death occurred in Lancaster County, our highly experienced wrongful death attorneys are ready to assist you. We offer a free initial consultation and review of your case and will always take the time to listen to you and your concerns prior to offering legal advice. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.