Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

What is a wrongful death? A wrongful death claim can arise anytime a person or enterprise intentionally or unintentionally causes the death of another person.

Wrongful Death LawsuitsFor example, wrongful death claims can occur as a result of:

Setting up an estate for a wrongful death claim:

A loved one’s wrongful death can be the basis for a lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate by the personal representative, also known as the executor for the estate. The executor is assigned either by the decedent’s will or by act of law.

If the decedent died without a will, then the decedent is deemed to have died “intestate.” In this situation, “intestacy laws” will determine who the executor for the estate will be. Also, if the will does not properly assign an executor, or if the appointed person is unable to fulfill their duties as executor, a court and judge can be requested to assign an executor for the estate.

The executor’s duties also include the disbursement of property to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, obtaining information about any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate, and approving or disapproving creditors’ claims. An executor also makes sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed and tax payments made, and in all ways assists the attorney for the estate.

Figuring out what really killed your loved one

Because your loved one is no longer able to explain his or her version of the events before death, it is critical that the executor for an estate take prompt steps to hire the right wrongful death attorney who is qualified to figure out what really happened.

Holding another party responsible for the death of your loved one is often complicated.

Because your loved one is no longer able to explain his or her version of the events before death, it is critical that the executor for an estate take prompt steps to hire a strong, knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who is qualified to figure out what really happened.

Unfortunately, after losing a loved one, grief and sadness make it very difficult to gather critical evidence that may soon be gone. This evidence may make all of the difference in successfully obtaining all of the money that should be recovered by those that the decedent left behind. Worse, the lack of training and experience that the executor and loved one’s family possesses in the area of investigating a fatality claim will make it very difficult to properly investigate a wrongful death claim and preserve critical evidence and witnesses.

The longer it takes to retain the best attorney available to handle your loved one’s wrongful death claim, the more evidence that will be lost. Therefore, while the evidence is at its freshest and opportunities exist to secure important witnesses and testimony, it is always wise to seek the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney. Your attorney must know exactly where to start, what evidence to secure as quickly as possible, and handling questions and important paperwork that will be received from insurers, defendants, police investigators, and more.

How much money should be recovered in a specific wrongful death lawsuit?

These factors need to be considered in valuing a wrongful death claim:

  1. Was the decedent married?
  2. Did the decedent support any minor children?
  3. How much earnings will be lost by the decedent due to his or her death?
    1. The value of employee benefits such as health insurance must be included in the calculation of loss of earnings.
  4. Did the decedent survive and consciously suffer pain for a period of time before they dying?
    1. How extreme was his or her pain?
    2. How long did his or her pain last?
  5. Funeral and other expenses related to the death and burial of the decedent.
    1. Cost of funeral
    2. Medical bills incurred to save life
  6. Was another party solely responsible for the accident that killed the decedent or did the decedent contribute in any way to the outcome? If their own conduct contributed to the occurrence of the accident, this can reduce the money that their estate is entitled to. For example, if the decedent was killed while a pedestrian trying to cross a street, the value of the case may be less if they crossed in the middle of a high traffic area rather than in a pedestrian crosswalk.

What can increase the value of a wrongful death claim?

  • The decedent did not die immediately from the negligent act of another person and consciously suffered from severe pain before passing away.
  • The decedent was a parent with minor children.
  • The decedent was killed by a drunk driver or by some other type of criminal act.
  • A dangerous product killed the decedent and your attorney succeeds in proving that the company manufacturing the product was aware of that danger, but ignored it in order to increase their profits.
  • The insurance company fails to responsibly handle decedent’s claim and is held liable for unfair insurance practices or bad faith.
  • Medical personnel change the decedent’s medical records in an effort to protect themselves from a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Consider having your loved one’s wrongful death claim handled by Jon Ostroff. Jon is known to be an experienced, knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer with extensive experience handling and succeeding in wrongful death claims. Jon will take charge of your loved one’s case and pull out all stops to figure out what really happened to your loved one and make those at fault pay.

What can decrease the value of a wrongful death claim?

  • Waiting too long to investigate a wrongful death claim and as a result, being unable to find critical witnesses and evidence.
  • No insurance coverage.
  • Not enough insurance to fully compensate an estate for its claim.
  • The decedent died instantly and had no conscious pain and suffering.
  • The decedent was also at fault for causing the accident that killed him or her.
  • The decedent was already disabled or retired when killed. As a result, he or she suffered no loss of wages due to their death.
  • Having your loved one’s wrongful death claim handled by an attorney who does not have the strength and experience necessary to prove what happened and win your case. Your loved one’s death must be handled the right way, by the right lawyer.

For nearly 25 years, Jon Ostroff has been representing the estates of over 100 children and adults who have died across Pennsylvania as a result of someone else’s negligence. Jon will spend the time and money it takes to figure out what happened to your loved one. If unable to recover money for your loved one’s estate, Jon will pay these costs.

Jon Ostroff’s ability to find the evidence that wins cases has earned him his distinguished reputation across Pennsylvania as a wrongful death attorney.