Wrongful Death Lawyer in Philadelphia: How to Pursue a Claim
Wrongful death cases can be quite complicated. There are legal requirements related to filing an estate, the timing of your claim, and what damages you can claim. There are often complex medical records to review and understand. And there are the decisions – the countless decisions – that have to be made regularly to ensure that your case will have a successful outcome. Here are some ways in which a wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia can help you prove your wrongful death case.
FILE A TIMELY LAWSUIT
Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.
Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorney will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to talk with various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to their loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.
Wrongful death attorneys in Philadelphia understand the immense grief associated with wrongful death lawsuits and will do everything in their power to work with you and ease your burdens during the stressful time after your loved one’s death.
SET UP AN ESTATE
It is essential to know who represents the estate prior to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
If your loved one died without a will, the court may appoint a personal representative called an “administrator.” An administrator of an estate may be a surviving spouse, other family member, or family friend. The administrator collects all the assets of the decedent, pays creditors, and distributes the remaining assets to heirs or other beneficiaries.
If your loved one died with a will, the person appointed in the will as the “executor” has similar responsibilities to the administrator in that they must collect assets, make sure all debts and taxes are paid, and then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with law and the will.
The other important function of an administrator or an executor is the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Your wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia will help you figure out who should represent the estate.
PURSUE AND PRESERVE CRITICAL EVIDENCE
How do you know what actions must be taken early in the process of your lawsuit with regard to critical evidence? Your wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia has handled countless cases and knows exactly what you need to do. One of the first essential steps is to order an autopsy on the decedent. When ordering the autopsy, an experienced wrongful death attorney knows whether to order toxicology along with the autopsy. Toxicology includes a search for chemicals or drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine. Obviously, this autopsy must be done prior to the burial or cremation so your wrongful death attorney will act swiftly to ensure that all necessary actions are taken before the decedent is buried.
Other examples of evidence that needs to be gathered in a timely fashion include police reports, witness statements, photographs and videos, death certificates, and physical objects that are related to the wrongful death. It is imperative that you help your lawyer gather these necessary pieces of information to the extent that you can. The presence or absence of this evidence will determine whether your wrongful death lawsuit is successful or not.
HIRE THE RIGHT (AND BEST) EXPERTS
Your wrongful death case is likely complicated. It will require expert review and analysis. In a medical malpractice wrongful death case, for instance, your attorney will have to find a doctor that is trained in the same practice of medicine in which the defendant doctor practices. In other words, if your loved one died as the result of a medical error by a cardiac surgeon, your wrongful death lawyer will find you a top expert in the field of cardiac surgery. Your wrongful death attorney has access to the best experts in the country and they will ensure that the most qualified experts review your case and write an ironclad report to bolster your claim in court.
FILE THE COMPLAINT, INCLUDING ALL NECESSARY CLAIMS
A wrongful death attorney evaluates the case with knowledge of all possible causes of action and claims for wrongful death damages. They know how to work with bereaved families to help them achieve a fair outcome for their wrongful death claim.
Under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, there are two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are quantifiable, the exact figure can be established with documentation. They include lost wages, medical expenses, burial and funeral costs, and estate administration costs.
Non-economic damages are not quantifiable – they are more of a subjective assessment of the sad consequences of a wrongful death. They include loss of companionship and pain and suffering.
Your wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia understands how to maximize the value of your wrongful death lawsuit. They will work with you to establish the extent of your damages and to make sure that the Complaint that they file contains all possible causes of actions and claims for damages.
Your case will resolve either in a wrongful death settlement or it may go to trial. The wrongful death trial might take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks, depending on how much evidence your lawyer needs to present to the jury. Either way, an experienced wrongful death attorney will help to ensure that you receive the most compensation possible for your wrongful death claim.
An experienced wrongful death attorney will help you with all of the difficult stages of your lawsuit. To talk with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact the lawyers at VSCP Law.