Reiff & Bily is a Pennsylvania personal injury law firm with attorneys experienced in handling wrongful death cases.
The unexpected death of a loved one can prove challenging to those left behind. In this time of grief, you may be pressed to make funeral arrangements, care for other family members or even attend to your own medical needs. Unfortunately, if you have lost your loved one due to a wrongful death, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations requires that you file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of death to preserve your legal claim to compensation. Additionally, you may have to take immediate legal action to preserve evidence that supports your wrongful death claim.
Reiff & Bily is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based personal injury law firm with attorneys experienced in handling wrongful death cases. Attorney Jeffrey Reiff, one of our founding partners, has more than three-and-a-half decades of practical experience fighting for accident victims, their family, and other loved ones who were left behind. If your loved one was killed by the negligence of a person, company or other entity we may be able to fight for you and your family.
What Is a Wrongful Death Action in Pennsylvania?
The term wrongful death refers to a person’s death that was caused by the negligence or misconduct of another. In Pennsylvania, a person filing a wrongful death claim must be a relative of the person who passed away and may have to prove in court that he or she has the legal right to seek monetary damages from the person, group or company responsible for the death.
A relative may bring a wrongful death claim for both accidental deaths as well as criminal acts. The relatives authorized by law to bring a lawful death claim in Pennsylvania are the deceased individual’s spouse, parents, or children. Essentially, only immediate family members may bring a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims for compensation may include the loss of income suffered, medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of support and companionship, and other losses. Deaths caused by medical malpractice, driver negligence, defective products, hazardous premises may be the basis of a wrongful death claim.
Distinguishing a Survival Act Claim from a Wrongful Death Claim
In addition to a wrongful death claim, a survival action claim may also be available. While a wrongful death and a survival action claim often stem from the same nexus of events, a survival action is a distinct legal concept. Rather than focusing on the losses of the close family members like a wrongful death action does, a survival action focuses on the losses suffered by the person who was killed. Therefore, survival damages can include the financial award the individual could have sought if not for his or her death. Typically, the most significant portion of the viable survival action damages stems from the pain and suffering experienced by the individual who was killed.
Wrongful Death Claims Can Arise in Many Personal Injury Situations
Potential clients often ask what types of personal injury cases and injury scenarios would allow for a wrongful death claim. In a certain sense, the mechanics of the injury – or how the accident occurred – is somewhat less relevant than the result produced. That is, a loved one must have suffered a fatal injury caused by the intentional, reckless, negligent, or careless actions of another person. Some potential scenarios that can give rise to a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania include:
- Defective car or truck – While any type of design or manufacturing defect can inflict serious, fatal injuries the nature of a motor vehicle and its potential high rate of travel makes catastrophic injury more likely when something goes wrong. Recent high-profile vehicle defects that have caused deaths include the GM ignition switch defect, Takata defective airbag inflator, and other problems.
- Slip and fall – Slips, trips, stumbles, and falls can occur in a variety of ways ranging from an uneven or cracked sidewalk to accumulations of snow and ice. While a slip and fall seems like it would not inflict major damage, they can and do cause significant life-altering injuries or death.
- Pedestrian accidents – Unfortunately pedestrian accidents, injuries, and fatalities are on the rise in Philadelphia and throughout the United States. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to being struck by a car or truck in urban environments and on poorly lit highways and roads where vehicles travel at high rates of speed.
- Medical malpractice – When a loved one seeks medical care or treatment, he or she expects to receive care that will preserve or improve his or her chances of survival. However, when doctors, nurses, and medical professionals take actions that are not supported by best practices or medical science fatal complications can arise.
- Vehicle accidents – The actions of a reckless or careless driver can inflict serious consequences on other motorists and their family. Drivers who speed, change lanes erratically, fail to heed traffic signals, and engage in other dangerous behaviors can cause fatal crashes.
- Bus, train, and mass transit crash – Trains and buses run by companies like SEPTA, PATCO, NJTRANSIT, AMTRAK and others provide a necessary service in this metropolitan region of Pennsylvania. However, bus and train operators who have undiagnosed conditions like sleep apnea or who fail to follow procedures can cause passengers to suffer fatal injuries in crashes, derailments, or other accidents.
- Amusement park and fair accidents – While many people would expect the rides found at fairs, carnivals and amusement parks to be subject to stringent regulation the fact is that there is no national regulatory regime. Rather, a patchwork of state safety rules makes it different for parents and caregivers to assess the safety of any particular ride or theme park operator. Often, the failure to perform necessary maintenance or provide adequate training to employees and operators contributes to fatal ride accidents.
The above captures only the more common scenarios where fatal injuries may be inflicted and a wrongful death claim may be available. If a loved one was killed due to the negligence or carelessness of another person, the wrongful death lawyers of Reiff & Bily can help you determine if you can bring a wrongful death action or any other related claims.
Our injury attorneys have successfully represented families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents in Philadelphia and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. We handle all our wrongful death cases with the diligence, care, and compassion. We will focus on protecting your legal rights as we thoroughly investigate the accident and pursue your claim for compensation.
Wrongful Death Case Results
It is important to note that every personal injury or wrongful death case will be decided on its own merits and facts. Thus, past success does not suggest or guarantee that the same or a similar result will be reached in your matter. However, the lawyers of Reiff & Bily are proud to present some of our case results to help potential clients familiarize themselves with our practice and legal experience.
Also, please note that we are not always able to reveal all aspects of settlements because of the terms of the settlement agreement. However, Reiff & Bily attorneys will always proceed strategically and present clients with all reasonable legal options. Notable Reiff & Bily wrongful death case results include:
- Confidential Settlement: 15 passenger van rollover. Multiple deaths and multiple catastrophic injuries of passengers.
- Confidential Wrongful Death Settlement: Errant motor vehicle operator strikes and kills jogger who was a retired teacher.
- Confidential Wrongful Death Settlement: Hospital failed to supervise elderly patient who used a walker and experienced dizzy spells. The patient fell while unsupervised and died shortly after breaking a hip.
- Substantial Confidential Wrongful Death Award: Teenager killed after being struck by a commercial bus in Pennsylvania.
- Substantial Confidential Wrongful Death Settlement: Teenager is killed in a hit and run crash. The driver is later apprehended and charged with vehicular homicide.
- Confidential Wrongful Death and Survival Action Recovery: Family member of plaintiff suffered a thyroid storm causing dangerously high heart rate and body temperature. The individual died shortly after release from the correctional facility where the victim was denied proper medical attention during several week stay.
- Confidential Settlement: For the wrongful death of prison inmate.
- Confidential Settlement: For dental malpractice involving improper medication/procedures resulting in death.
- $1,250,000 Wrongful Death Recovery: For the estate of a woman who died after she was released from a city prison because she did not receive the proper medical care while incarcerated.
- $1,100,000 Wrongful Death Settlement: Construction worker was killed when a steel beam fell off a forklift at a construction site. Case settled at mediation for $1,100,000.
- $500,000 Medical Negligence Settlement: Physician failed to properly treat respiratory distress in an asthmatic teenager resulting in death. The case settled after 4 days of trial.
While the outcome of any case or legal matter is based on the facts and circumstances present, the lawyers of Reiff & Bily are ready to approach an array of wrongful death cases aggressively and strategically.
For Outstanding Legal Representation, Call A Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyer at Reiff & Bily
If a loved one has been in a serious accident and suffered fatal injuries, you undoubtedly face an incredibly trying situation. While you probably have more than enough on your mind as you process your grief, you should try to think about your future as soon as possible. Please remember, that Pennsylvania law sets forth a statute of limitation and a statute of repose that means you must bring you case within a certain amount of time. If you fail to file your case before that time, you will not be able to recover compensation for your losses.
Call Reiff & Bily at 1-800-861-6708 or contact us online for a free case evaluation from our Philadelphia injury lawyers. Retaining the services of a personal injury law firm that understands Pennsylvania’s wrongful death law and has the experience and resources to prove your wrongful death claim allows you to immediately explore, understand and preserve your legal options.