When someone gets hurt as a direct result of another’s negligent or wrongful act, the injured person can seek civil compensation for all their injury-related losses. When someone passes away because of another’s misconduct, though, that doesn’t mean the negligent person is not responsible—instead, they may be liable for causing harm to a deceased person’s surviving family members through their wrongful death.
As a skilled personal injury attorney can explain, some of the rules for filing a wrongful death lawsuit are the same as those that apply to personal injury lawsuits, and some are different. Navigating state law after going through a tragedy like this is not something you have to do by yourself and help from a well-known York wrongful death lawyer can improve your chances of getting paid what you and your family deserve. Previously, we won $5 million for the estate of a woman who lost her life in a severe tractor-trailer accident on Route 80 in Union County.
Rules for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
For the first six months after someone passes away directly due to someone else’s negligent or illegal act, the only person who has legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the deceased person’s personal representative, which is usually someone nominated in that person’s will to manage their affairs after they pass away. If the personal representative doesn’t file suit inside that six-month window, eligible beneficiaries for the deceased person can file suit on their own or on behalf of all beneficiaries up until two years after the deceased person’s date of death, which is when the statute of limitations for injury claims would prevent a claim from moving forward.
Under state law, the only people who can serve as beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim are the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. When none of these people are available, the personal representative cannot file a wrongful death claim, although they may be able to pursue a similar but separate claim called a survival action—something a York wrongful death attorney can explain in more detail if needed.
What Damages May Be Recoverable in a Wrongful Passing Claim?
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is not to assign a financial value to the life of someone who passed away before their time but rather to compensate surviving family members for specific losses they’ll suffer as a direct result of their loved one’s death. Damages that a skilled lawyer can help factor into a wrongful death case in York may include but aren’t strictly limited to:
- Medical expenses paid on behalf of the deceased person
- Funeral and burial/cremation costs
- Costs of estate administration services
- Lost financial support the deceased person would’ve provided in the future, as well as other benefits like health insurance
- Lost household services—for example, help caring for young children
- Lost love, companionship, guidance, and support
While rare, a court may also impose additional punitive damages against someone who was extremely negligent or who intentionally caused someone else’s death through a criminal act.
A York Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
There’s no amount of money that can make up for the unexpected loss of someone you love. What civil recovery can do is minimize the financial and personal harm you and your family will have to deal with because of your tragic and undeserved loss.
A York wrongful death lawyer from Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can go over your options with you and offer advice about the next steps during a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us today to get started.