The sudden loss of a loved one in a tragic accident in Pittsburgh can be devastating. Surviving family members are left to deal with the emotional distress from a sudden loss as well as the potentially catastrophic financial consequences. While nothing can bring back your loved one, you could be entitled to damages such as lost income from the deceased, lost benefits, and others.
Finding the best wrongful death lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA, can be an important first step for those seeking justice and compensation. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorneys can help. We can identify your legal options and the next best steps after the unexpected death of your loved one. Contact us today for a free case review to find out how we can help.
What Is Wrongful Death?
If your loved one passed away due to the negligence or misconduct of another, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages. Wrongful death claims can arise in numerous circumstances such as car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls, intentional murders, and others.
When someone dies due to the fault of another party, the surviving close family members could seek damages such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral costs, among others. Potentially, individuals, corporations, and government bodies can be sued in wrongful death cases.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
Generally, any death caused by the deliberate or careless actions of another could lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Common examples include:
Motor Vehicle Crashes
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in 2020 alone, 1,129 persons died in a car crash in the state. Wrongful death claims commonly arise when an accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another driver. Negligent driving behaviors can include but are not limited to:
- Speeding and driving too fast for weather conditions
- Intoxicated driving
- Failure to observe traffic laws and regulations
- Texting while driving or being otherwise distracted
- Driving fatigued
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Driving aggressively
- Driving a defective vehicle
If your loved one died in a road accident, whether as a car occupant, motorcyclist, pedestrian, bicyclist, or another road user, you could have a case. A Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyer can analyze your situation and determine your next best steps for getting justice and compensation.
Slip and Fall Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls account for 67 deaths per 100,000 adults over 65 in Pennsylvania. Falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths among older adults in the country.
Not every fall qualifies for a wrongful death lawsuit. However, you could potentially hold a property owner accountable if your loved one fell due to lack of maintenance or the presence of a dangerous condition. Dangerous conditions can include spillages, loose rugs, missing steps, and others.
Slips and falls are not the only cases of premises liability that could lead to a wrongful death claim. You could also have a case if your loved one died due to:
- Dog bite injuries
- Workplace accident
- Negligent security incident
- Swimming pool accident
A property owner is responsible for ensuring that their property does not endanger guests, customers, and visitors. If they fail to make their property reasonably safe, you could potentially hold them liable for damages arising from the death of your relative.
When our loved ones undergo surgery or receive medical treatment, we expect them to get better and not worse. Discovering that your relative passed away due to an avoidable medical error can be heartbreaking and upsetting. However, you could have legal recourse against the doctor, nurse, or medical institution responsible for the error. Examples of medical malpractice are:
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis
- Surgery and anesthesia errors
- Medication mistakes
- Birth injuries
- Early discharge
- Inadequate aftercare
- Failure to order diagnostic tests or interpret results
There can be many other incidents that could result in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you think that you have a wrongful death case, our committed wrongful death attorneys could help.
Steps to Find the Best Wrongful Death Lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA
There are many ways to find a great lawyer. However, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), one of the best ways to find an excellent lawyer is by recommendation from a relative, friend, or business associate. Make sure to focus on attorneys who specialize in wrongful death cases.
If you are unable to come up with some attorney or law firm names by asking friends and family members, using the internet can be a good next step. You can use databases such as Avvo and Martindale Hubbell to find lawyers and client reviews. The Pennsylvania Bar Association could also provide you with a list of names of wrongful death lawyers practicing near you.
Meeting Your Attorney in Person
Meeting your potential attorney and legal team in person is an excellent idea and should not be skipped when deciding on adequate legal representation. Your wrongful death lawyer should be your best advocate and fight tirelessly for what you deserve. If you do not feel heard or the lawyer avoids your questions at the first meeting, it is probably best to keep looking. No matter how many credentials or years of experience an attorney can show, they also have to feel right for you.
The best wrongful death attorneys in Pittsburgh, PA, will be enthusiastic about helping you and should be able and willing to answer your most pressing questions.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You can potentially pursue a wrongful death lawsuit when your loved one passed away as the result of someone else’s deliberate or negligent conduct. A wrongful death lawsuit is designed to provide financial support for family members, dependents, and others who relied on financial support from the deceased victim.
In Pittsburgh, PA, the personal representative named in the will is generally responsible for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which could be:
- The spouse of the decedent
- A child of the deceased
- Another close relative such as a sibling or parent
- Those relying on financial support from the decedent
- Another individual named in the will
If there is no will, a close relative such as the spouse would generally file suit. If there are no surviving family members, the court can appoint a personal representative.
If your loved one has passed away and you are unsure of your next best steps, one of our lawyers can advise you on whether you could file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Which Damages Could I Recover With a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Relatives typically initiate wrongful death litigation to pursue compensation for their financial losses and emotional anguish. Damages can include:
- Hospitalization and other medical expenses before death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost income and lost benefits from the deceased
- Estate administration expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
- Loss of household services from the deceased
Depending on the facts of your individual case, your damages could differ, or you could be entitled to additional compensation.
Is Wrongful Death a Crime in Pennsylvania?
Although the actions leading to wrongful death can be criminal, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil and not a criminal case in Pennsylvania. In a criminal case such as murder, the charges are brought by the government. In contrast, with a wrongful death case, the charges are filed by a family member or representative of the estate.
Another notable difference between a civil case and a criminal case is that criminal law is punitive in nature and primarily seeks to punish the wrongdoer. So-called “tort-law”, on the other hand, is designed to provide surviving family members with a way to recover financial compensation. In other words, while the responsible party could be criminally prosecuted, you will also have to file a civil lawsuit to pursue compensation.
What Is My Wrongful Death Case Worth?
No two wrongful death cases are the same. Settlement amounts can depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- The age and health of the victim before death
- Whether the fault for an incident is clearly established
- The value of household services the deceased would have provided
- Medical and funeral expenses
When your loved one suffers a wrongful death, the settlement amount should reflect the loss and grief you are experiencing and the importance of your loved one’s life.
Our wrongful death attorneys fight tirelessly for the compensation surviving family members need to continue with their lives after a heartbreaking loss.
What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Case in Pittsburgh, PA?
Timely action can be essential if you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death case should generally be filed within two years of the victim’s death. If you have a case against a government entity, the time to file a suit could be even shorter. Filing too late could result in your case being thrown out.
It is understandable that when a loved one passes away, filing a lawsuit against the responsible party may not be your priority. However, the sooner you consult with a wrongful death attorney, the sooner you could recover damages that can help you and your family get through an upsetting, stressful, and expensive time.
Do I Have to Pay My Wrongful Death Lawyer Upfront?
Generally, you do not incur any out-of-pocket fees when hiring a wrongful death attorney. If you win your case, the attorney takes a percentage of the proceeds as their fee. If there is no recovery, you do not have to pay your attorney. Some wrongful death attorneys charge their clients upfront for any miscellaneous costs involved in bringing the suit, such as court filing expenses or expert witness fees.
We believe that a client’s financial situation should not bar them from getting quality legal representation. When you work with Morgan & Morgan, you have access to the best wrongful death lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA, and do not pay a dime out of your own pocket. We only get paid unless and until we win and you recover a payout.
How We Can Help You Get Justice
Handling a wrongful death case without adequate legal representation can be full of pitfalls. However, Morgan & Morgan’s determined wrongful death lawyers are here to help. You do not have to go it alone.
We Can Navigate the Legal Process for You
Our attorneys have assisted countless clients to recover what they deserve and have detailed knowledge of the legal process. They can be by your side every step of the way. Our attorneys know the evidence required to prove your case. They can deal with all the paperwork involved with filing a suit and ensure all deadlines are met.
We Know the Value of Your Claim
Not knowing what your wrongful death lawsuit is worth can lead to leaving money on the table in settlement negotiations. Our attorneys can evaluate your situation and calculate your damages accordingly.
We Can Take Your Case to Trial
Our determined and tenacious attorneys can negotiate strongly for a fair settlement on your behalf. However, they do not shy away from taking your case to trial to fight for what you deserve, if necessary.
Contact Morgan & Morgan Now for Help
We understand that losing a loved one suddenly is a huge shock. Filing a lawsuit to get justice and compensation can feel overwhelming during such a difficult time. However, seeking legal advice is critical when losing a family member due to another’s fault, as you could be entitled to compensation. While no amount of money could ever make up for the loss of your loved one, compensation can help you move on with your life and avert potential financial hardship.
Finding the best wrongful death lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA, has never been easier. Our compassionate attorneys want to help you recover your due. Contact us now to get clear on your legal options and the next best steps in a free and confidential case review.