How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney in Bethlehem Help?
Losing a loved one in Bethlehem, PA, is a painful experience. But when your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, it can be even more heart-wrenching. Apart from the anguish that you and your family experience, there may also be great financial strains. The death of an immediate family member is a life-altering experience. Filing a civil lawsuit may not seem like a high priority, but it can safeguard your family’s future and hold those at fault accountable. A Bethlehem wrongful death attorney can pursue justice for your family so you can focus on rebuilding your life.
$32 Million Wrongful Death
$26 Million Truck Accident
$17.5 Million Car Accident
$12 Million Product Liability
$9 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$7.5 Million Auto Accident
$6.9 Million Garbage Truck Accident
$6.5 Million Traumatic Brain Injury
$5 Million Medical Malpractice
$5 Million Bus Accidents
The experienced wrongful death lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers have more than 60 years of experience winning justice for the people of the Lehigh Valley. We have won record-breaking settlements and verdicts, and are always prepared to bring a case to trial if necessary. Let us put our experience and extensive resources to work for you.
As we aggressively pursue your case, we will also be available to you as a resource to help you through this difficult time. Begin the process with a free, confidential consultation. Call us now to speak to a Bethlehem wrongful death attorney who will treat your case with the utmost compassion.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of action brought by the survivors or estate of a deceased person against the party or parties responsible for that person’s death. A wrongful death lawsuit is intended to compensate the surviving family members of the deceased for their losses (economic and otherwise) resulting from their loved one’s death. A wrongful death lawsuit will also hold the negligent party accountable and help to discourage future wrongdoing that could lead to loss of life.
Every state has its own laws on wrongful death, outlining what circumstances warrant a wrongful death suit, who has the right to file this type of lawsuit, and more.
It is important to note that a wrongful death lawsuit can be much more complicated than other types of personal injury cases like a car accident or a slip and fall. Proving damages in these cases will require expert testimony and knowledgeable legal counsel. This is why it is crucial that you have the right wrongful death lawyer on your side.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania law, a “wrongful death” is one that is brought about by “the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.” This may include accidents caused by negligence, medical malpractice, or a criminal act.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You should be aware right away that not all family members have an equal right to file a wrongful death claim.
The right to file a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state. In Pennsylvania, the personal representative or executor of the deceased person’s estate has the primary right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries. If that person does not file a wrongful death claim within six months of the date of death, the beneficiaries may do so themselves. Those beneficiaries include the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents – in that order.
If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then other family members including siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles may be eligible. The right to file a claim can be complicated, especially if there are conflicts surrounding the deceased person’s estate. A wrongful death attorney can help make things clear.
What Are the Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Bethlehem, PA?
Wrongful death can be caused by a number of accidents and injuries.
Car accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death claims. Every year, over 32,000 people are killed in auto crashes. Auto accidents involving cars, motorcycles, buses, and trucks are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States and Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, many traffic accidents are preventable. Fatal accidents are often caused by other people’s negligence and carelessness. Some common factors in these accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Excessive speeding
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Drowsy driving
The Bethlehem fatal car accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys also represent families whose loved ones were killed in a motorcycle crash, pedestrian accident, or a car crash with an Uber or Lyft driver.
Due to the size and weight of large trucks, truck accidents often result in life changing injuries or death. The Lehigh Valley sees heavy truck traffic due to its central location between major cities and its industrial development in recent years. If your loved one was killed in an accident involving a tractor trailer, tanker truck, 18-wheeler, or other large truck, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
For your case to succeed, you will need a specific type of lawyer – one whose practice is based in commercial truck cases. The Bethlehem truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have represented numerous families who lost a loved one in a truck crash. We know the complex regulations that govern common carriers and commercial transportation companies, and we have won millions of dollars in wrongful death claims.
Medical mistakes are one of the leading causes of wrongful death nationwide. The Lehigh Valley is home to some of the best hospitals and healthcare facilities in Pennsylvania, but medical malpractice can happen anywhere. Potentially deadly mistakes that can lead to a wrongful death claim include: a delayed or missed diagnosis, failure to treat a medical condition, surgical errors, medication errors, anesthesia errors, and more.
If your loved one died at St. Luke’s, Lehigh Valley Health Network, or another local facility and you believe negligence was to blame, a Bethlehem medical malpractice lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help investigate.
Harmful products like dangerous drugs, defective auto parts, and carcinogenic substances can result in wrongful death. However, proving these cases can be challenging, especially because they often involve large corporate entities and aggressive defense firms. This is why it is important to have a Bethlehem wrongful death attorney with experience taking on large companies and winning significant settlements.
Slip-and-fall accidents, dog bites, negligent security, and other hazards on a private or public property can result in wrongful death. Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property and keep them free from hazards that could harm lawful visitors and patrons. This includes landlords, business owners, hotels, Airbnbs, entertainment venues, and more. If your family member suffered a fatal injury on unsafe premises, a Bethlehem wrongful death attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help you.
Wrongful Death from a Workplace Injury in Bethlehem
If your loved one was killed on the job in Bethlehem, PA, a different set of rules will apply. Families of employees who suffer fatal workplace accidents may collect workers’ compensation death benefits to cover the cost of burial and the deceased person’s lost wages. You do not need to file a wrongful death lawsuit to claim these benefits.
However, you may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent third party if someone other than your loved one’s employer was to blame. For example, if your loved one was a truck driver who was killed in a crash while on the job, you would be able to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver who caused the crash in addition to collecting workers’ comp death benefits.
Some occupations are more dangerous than others, but we represent workers in all industries who suffer a fatal injury while doing their jobs. These include truck drivers, law enforcement, healthcare workers, construction workers, gas and drilling employees, municipal workers, and more.
Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today to speak to an experienced Bethlehem wrongful death attorney.
If you have lost a loved one due to any of these factors, you need a highly-skilled Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer to help you secure adequate compensation and deliver some justice. We know it’s not easy and that you can’t put a price on life, but we can help you take care of the financial challenges you are now going through.
Who is Liable in a Wrongful Death Case?
The basis of every wrongful death case in the Lehigh metro area and throughout Pennsylvania is negligence or carelessness. There has to be proof that a person or an entity was responsible for the demise of your relative. In Lehigh Valley, PA, the representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death action against the at-fault party on behalf of the surviving family.
Ultimately, who is liable in a wrongful death case will depend on the nature of the individual case. If your family member died in a car crash, the at-fault driver can be named a defendant in a wrongful death case. If a tractor trailer accident lead to wrongful death, the driver as well as the transportation company can be liable. If your loved one died from a medical mistake, the doctor, specialist, or hospital system responsible for their treatment can be held responsible.
Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim
As in other personal injury cases, your Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer will need to prove the following essential elements:
The defendant owed your deceased family member a duty of care. In auto accidents, all drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and in accordance with traffic laws. In medical malpractice cases, duty is established by the existence of a doctor-patient relationship and by the standards of the medical profession.
The defendant breached their duty. We must show that the driver was reckless, speeding, or otherwise failed to act with reasonable caution; or, that their doctor failed to uphold the standard of care for their area of practice.
The defendant’s negligence (or “breach”) directly caused your loved one’s fatal injuries.
As a result of these facts, surviving family members suffered economic and non-economic damages from the loss of your loved one.
To win a wrongful death case, you will need a highly skilled and experienced Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer on your side. The wrongful death attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have successfully achieved justice for thousands of families in Northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond.
When you hire Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, you know your case is in the right hands. Equipped with an advanced team of investigators, expert witnesses, and industry specialists, we are able to work on your case and find every shred of evidence that’s linked to the person or company’s negligence.
What’s more, we always work on contingency, so we don’t charge you for anything until we’ve concluded your case and gotten you the settlement you deserve.
Don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us. Call to speak to an experienced Bethlehem wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
In Pennsylvania, there is no cap on damages in a wrongful death case. Wrongful death damages can include economic and non-economic losses. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, financial compensation can provide a measure of security for your family’s future and relieve the financial pressures you face during this time.
Economic damages include:
- Loss of income, benefits, and financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Services and contributions to the household
Non-economic damages include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of protection, guidance, and counsel
What is a Survival Action?
A survival action is similar to both a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim. Through a survival action, the representative of the deceased’s estate can seek compensation for the pain and suffering the decedent experienced as a result of the defendant’s actions. A survival action can also seek compensation for the decedent’s medical bills, and other losses. In effect, a survival action allows surviving family members to sue on behalf of their loved one.
Is Wrongful Death the Same As Personal Injury in Bethlehem, PA?
Even though wrongful death and personal injury situations are similar, they’re different in one fundamental way: the person who initiates legal action.
In personal injury cases, the suit is filed by the person who was injured by the negligent or careless party. In wrongful death cases, however, Pennsylvania state law requires the executor of the deceased’s estate or another appointed representative to bring the lawsuit against the person or organization believed to be responsible for the death of their family member.
Also, the recoverable damages differ between these two types of cases. A personal injury lawsuit often includes a claim for the recovery of medical costs, wage loss, and pain and suffering. Meanwhile, a wrongful death claim may seek to recover funeral costs, loss of future income, medical costs, and loss of care, comfort, and companionship.
Wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania have a two-year statute of limitations. This means you have to file the lawsuit within two years of your relative’s passing. However, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your case will be prepared and filed in a timely manner.
We know that all the varying rules and regulations may be confusing.
If you need more clarifications, feel free to contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys to speak to a Bethlehem wrongful death attorney. Call today to speak to a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer serving Bethlehem, PA.
Bethlehem Wrongful Death FAQs
Q: What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Homicide?
“Wrongful death” is caused by someone else’s recklessness, carelessness, or deliberate negligence. Homicide, on the other hand, is an intentional act of violence. A wrongful death caused by negligence may result in a civil claim, while homicide charges are criminal. However, there are some instances where the two can overlap.
For example, if a surgeon was operating on a patient while drunk, he or she may face criminal charges as well as a civil lawsuit if the patient suffers harm. In another example, a murder can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit if a person is killed because of negligent security. In this case, the perpetrator would face criminal charges and the negligent building owner could face a civil suit for wrongful death.
If you think your loved one’s death may involve criminal acts as well as negligence, a Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Q: Can Siblings File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Typically, in Pennsylvania, siblings are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. That right belongs to the surviving spouse, children, or parents. However, if the sibling is the closest surviving family member of the deceased, or the designated executor of their will, they may be allowed to proceed with a legal case. A Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer can help family members determine who has the legal right to sue on behalf of their deceased loved one.
Q: What is the Deadline for Wrongful Death Cases?
Each state defines its own deadline for filing personal injury and wrongful death cases. This is known as the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death.
There are some rare exceptions to this rule. In most cases, if the two year deadline has passed, the surviving family members will be barred from pursuing a wrongful death claim. However, if you and your family did not discover that the defendant’s actions were to blame for your loved one’s wrongful death until a later time, the deadline may be extended.
While two years may sound like a long time, the court system can move slowly. There are many steps that must be taken before a wrongful death claim can be officially filed, and two years can elapse quickly. What’s more, important evidence and witness recollection can disappear with time. Even if you are unsure about pursuing a wrongful death case, it’s never too early to speak with a Bethlehem wrongful death attorney. We can listen to your story, explain your rights, and advise you about how to proceed. This way, if it appears you have a case and are ready to take action, we’ll be prepared to get to work right away.
Q: Do I Need a Bethlehem Wrongful Death Attorney?
After the loss of your loved one, filing a wrongful death claim can seem daunting. In fact, the insurance company of the person or company responsible for your loved one’s death may reach out to you to offer a settlement without you having to take any action. After all, it seems very clear that they were at fault and they should pay. However, this is a tactic insurers can use to settle claims for much less than the families of the deceased deserve. In other situations, if you attempt to represent yourself, you could end up with nothing.
A Bethlehem wrongful death attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help make sure this doesn’t happen. We will explain your legal rights and what to expect from the wrongful death claim process. We will conduct a thorough investigation, consult with expert witnesses, calculate damages, issue a demand, negotiate with the insurance company, and bring your wrongful death case to trial if necessary.
Never accept an offer of settlement without speaking with a Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer first.
Q: What is the Difference Between an Executor and Power of Attorney?
After the death of a loved one, two terms you will hear used frequently include “executor” and “power of attorney.” If your loved one died due to negligence, you’ll learn that the representative or executor of the deceased person’s estate must file the wrongful death claim. This can cause some confusion if the person who held power of attorney is not the named executor of the estate.
The executor, usually named in a will, is responsible for handling financial and other matters after a person dies. Power of attorney, on the other hand, assigns certain decision-making power to another individual on behalf of the person while they are still alive.
Contact a Top-Rated Bethlehem Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is a prominent legal firm that is experienced in wrongful death cases. Every Bethlehem wrongful death lawyer on our team is entirely committed to securing the best outcomes for you. Our results speak for themselves. We can and will fight for your rights and your fair compensation as well.
Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free initial consultation with a wrongful death attorney in Bethlehem.