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Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Wrongful Death in Allentown, PA?

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The victim’s family members may file a wrongful death suit on the victim’s behalf against the responsible parties. These parties can be individuals or entities; in essence, whoever is at fault for the death in question or whose negligence contributed to the death can be held responsible. For instance, if someone loses their life because of a violent attack, the attacker can be held responsible for a wrongful death claim. And if a company or larger entity was unreasonably negligent and that negligence resulted in a death, they too can be held responsible.

What is a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful Death in Allentown, PAA wrongful death is defined in Pennsylvania law as a death that occurred because of someone else’s negligence, wrongful behavior, or unlawful violence. In other words, a person who dies from natural causes would not be considered a wrongful death. Types of wrongful death claims include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Fall accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Assaults and homicides

In typical personal injury cases that do not involve death, the victim can advocate for themselves by filing a lawsuit against the negligent parties who caused them harm. The victim can receive damages to compensate for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. They’re able to stand up for themselves to seek compensation and justice.

When a fatal accident occurs, and a person loses their life due to someone’s negligence, the situation changes. The victim cannot advocate for themselves or recover damages that may compensate for some of their losses and suffering. This is what a wrongful death claim is for. Wrongful death claims allow the surviving family members of the victim to file a wrongful death claim on the victim’s behalf, seeking justice where their loved one cannot.

Of course, no amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a person’s life. But an unfortunate reality is that the pain of experiencing death is also accompanied by additional losses that deserve to be recognized. Perhaps the deceased person was the family’s primary breadwinner, and now their surviving spouse or surviving children are without an income. Or perhaps the funeral expenses are an undue financial burden on grieving families. While a wrongful death claim cannot bring the lost loved one back to life, it can, at the very least, make up for some of these other losses and make life just a fraction more manageable for the surviving family members.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Allentown, PA?

One key difference between wrongful death lawsuits and other personal injury lawsuits is that the victims are not able to represent or speak for themselves. Instead, the deceased person’s family members file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Some states impose limitations on who can bring about a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of someone else. For an Allentown wrongful death lawsuit, Pennsylvania law dictates that only the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased person can file. This person does not have to be a citizen of the US or even a Pennsylvania resident, but they must fall into one of the categories listed above.

However, if none of these beneficiaries exist (i.e., the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents), a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate can file a lawsuit seeking solely financial compensation for harm done to the estate. This would include medical expenses but not pain and suffering.

What Damages Are Available in an Allentown Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims can result in various economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic damages are damages (or losses experienced by the victim and their surviving family members) that have a specific and calculable monetary value, such as lost wages or income loss. Some of the economic damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Burial expenses and funeral costs
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • And more

On the other hand, noneconomic damages refer to those losses that don’t necessarily have an exact monetary value but are still extremely significant and deserving of compensation. When someone loses a loved one, so many of their losses are more abstract: pain, grief, and the loss of their company. Noneconomic damages are designed to make up for some of these losses, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Grief
  • Loss of consortium

In a wrongful death claim, the responsible party’s insurance company will ultimately pay these damages to the victim’s family, whether through an agreed settlement or as the result of a trial. One key benefit of working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is that they can assess your case in great detail and ensure that each loss is accounted for as you seek compensation. When you lose a loved one, the pain of grief is enough, and you should not have to worry about paying off a mountain of medical bills or surviving without one of the household’s incomes. Working with dedicated wrongful death attorneys to secure compensation can, at the very least, ease some of this burden.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Surviving family members may also seek another type of damages separate from those listed above. The economic and noneconomic damages awarded in wrongful death claims are not intended to serve as punishment for the defendant; rather, they are intended to compensate surviving family members for the losses they’ve suffered. Conversely, punitive damages are intended specifically to punish the defendant. They may also serve the purpose of dissuading this specific person from behaving negligently again and dissuading the public from engaging in similarly negligent behavior.

Punitive damages are not available in every case. A defendant will only be ordered to pay punitive damages in cases where the behavior that caused the death was particularly reckless, negligent, or violent. Under Pennsylvania law capped these damages at two times the total compensatory damages.

Who Are the Potentially Liable Parties in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In wrongful death cases, the circumstances around the death will determine who the liable parties are. Generally, any negligent party whose actions (or lack thereof) directly caused death can be held responsible. This is true of both individuals and larger entities and corporations. A drunk driver whose negligence results in a fatal accident would, in theory, be responsible. A doctor who does not uphold a standard of care, resulting in someone’s death, could be responsible. In a premises liability case, an individual may be found responsible for a wrongful death if their property contained hazardous conditions that resulted in a death.

In some instances, vicarious liability may come into play. This is usually seen in employer-employee relationships, where an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s actions.

To win a wrongful death claim, the claimant and their wrongful death attorneys must be able to prove a few key elements about the at-fault party and how the death occurred.

  • Duty of Care. Firstly, the wrongful death attorney must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased party. For instance, a doctor must uphold a reasonable standard of care with their patients, and all drivers on the road have a duty to drive safely and responsibly.
  • Breach of Duty of Care. Second, the wrongful death lawyer must show that this duty of care was breached. In the case of medical malpractice, this would mean that the doctor somehow failed to uphold a standard of care and acted in a way no other doctor would deem reasonable.
  • The Breach of Care Directly Caused the Death. Next, the attorney must be able to show that this breach of the duty of care directly resulted in the death in question.
  • That Death Resulted in Damages Owed. Lastly, it must be shown that the death resulted in damages; in other words, eligible family members suffered losses as a result of the death.

Proving these four things is key to all personal injury claims, including those involving wrongful deaths.

Do I Need an Allentown Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Wrongful Death in Allentown, PASuppose you’ve experienced the immense pain of losing someone, and you’re considering pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, you may wonder: can I handle this alone, or do I need an Allentown wrongful death attorney? The truth is that cases that involve a fatal accident are incredibly complex, and working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is the best way to set yourself up for success. While some personal injury cases could, in theory, be handled without a personal injury lawyer’s aid, any case involving a death requires a great deal of legal expertise.

A loved one’s death is undoubtedly one of the most devastating experiences anyone can go through. Grief alone is a huge weight to carry, and to add, navigating a complicated legal system on top of that is far too much for anyone to bear. When you work with a wrongful death lawyer, you can focus on yourself and your family and trust that a dedicated and experienced lawyer handles the legal process on your behalf.

Your skilled wrongful death lawyer will thoroughly investigate every element of your claim. They will gather evidence, determine the liable parties, and work tirelessly to hold them responsible. If your claim involves an insurance company, your Allentown wrongful death lawyer will manage all communication with them. Sometimes, insurance adjusters reach out after an accident and attempt to pressure an emotionally vulnerable person into accepting an entirely unfair settlement. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure this does not happen and protect your interests at every turn. They will ensure your case is valued fairly and negotiate until a fair settlement can be reached. And if it can’t, your lawyer can defend you throughout a trial.

Working with an Allentown personal injury lawyer is your best chance at securing both justice and compensation for yourself, your family, and the loved one you have lost.

Contact An Allentown Wrongful Death Lawyer at Munley Law Today

We know that we can do nothing to undo the suffering you’ve endured. We can’t turn back time or bring your precious loved one back. But what we can do is fight on your behalf to make sure that the at-fault parties are held responsible and that your loved one’s death does not go without the justice it deserves. We have the skills, resources, and expertise to handle delicate and complex wrongful death lawsuits. And if you have any doubts, our track record speaks for itself: we have an impeccable history of securing settlements for our clients.

We are a family business at our heart, and when you work with us, you’re part of the family, too. We handle every case with the tenderness and compassion it deserves and requires. With us, you’re not a case name or a file number. You’re a real person who has experienced unimaginable grief, and it’s our job to do everything we can to advocate for you and protect you.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation and learn how we can protect your interests. We are ready and waiting to fight for you.

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    Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys

    609 Hamilton St
    Allentown, PA 18101
    (610) 857-7424

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