Wrongful Death Attorneys in York, PA
Legal representation when you have suffered the loss of a loved one
The loss of a loved one can change your life forever, and no amount of compensation can fill the void the death has caused. Our attorneys understand what you are going through, and we want to help. We also understand that a tragic accident may also leave you and your family with massive medical bills and a loss of financial support. A wrongful death claim can help secure compensation for these losses.
If you think you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one, it is important to consult with a wrongful death attorney immediately. We know it is difficult to think about legal matters if you are grieving, but contacting the caring attorneys at KBG Injury Law can help protect your rights. Meet with us during a free consultation and we can explain your options, as well as take the legal stress off your shoulders.
How can we help?
- What is a wrongful death action?
- Is wrongful death a criminal or civil action?
- Who can file a wrongful death claim in York, PA?
- What are the elements of a wrongful death action?
- What is the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim?
- How long will my wrongful death case take?
- What is the value of my wrongful death claim?
- How can a York, PA wrongful death attorney help?
- Is there a wrongful death attorney near me?
What is a wrongful death action?
When someone dies due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, the surviving family members may file a civil lawsuit against the defendant to seek compensation for financial loss and mental anguish. Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Homicide or violence
- Premises liability
- Defective products
- Workplace accidents
Negligence is when someone knowingly acts in a way that puts others in danger, whether they intend to cause harm or not. Similarly, if someone chooses not to act knowing their inaction could cause harm, they too are being negligent. For example, if a doctor fails to send an ill person to a hospital for urgent care and instead sends them home, they are failing to act in a way that is appropriate for the situation. They are neglecting their responsibility as a doctor to provide the best care for their patient. If their patient dies due to their negligence, the patient’s family members may file a wrongful death action.
Is wrongful death a criminal or civil action?
There are two overarching types of lawsuits: civil and criminal. A civil case results from individuals bringing cases against each other, whereas criminal cases are brought by government prosecutors on behalf of the victims as well as the state. Wrongful death is dealt with in civil court. It is important to note that civil and criminal cases are separate and one does not hinge upon the other.
For example, an individual may be found not guilty of murder but still be found liable for someone’s wrongful death. A notable example of that is the O.J. Simpson case, who was acquitted of criminal murder charges in 1995, but later found liable in civil court for wrongful death.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in York, PA?
Generally, the victim’s beneficiaries or those who were financially dependent on the victim can file a wrongful death action. This includes close family members like a spouse, children, or parents.
Compensation for loss of companionship and guidance may be awarded to immediate family members in addition to other monetary losses. However, if there are no surviving immediate family members, siblings may file a claim. If the victim has no siblings, the victim’s personal representative may seek compensation for funeral, medical and administrative expenses.
What are the elements of a wrongful death action?
Sometimes, as unfortunate as it is, tragic accidents happen. Sometimes there is no one to blame. However, when negligence caused the loss of your loved one, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The plaintiff, or the person filing the lawsuit, must prove to the court that the defendant was either negligent or acted intentionally, resulting in the death of their loved one. To prove the defendant was negligent, there must be evidence of the following:
- Duty of care:The defendant must have had a duty to the victim. To determine if the defendant owed a duty to the victim, the judge will consider if the defendant created a risk, knowingly caused harm, volunteered to protect the victim, or had a business relationship with the victim. For example, it is a driver’s duty to other drivers to obey the law and drive carefully and responsibly.
- Breach of duty: The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant breached, or violated, the duty they owed the victim. For example, if someone drives drunk, they are breaching their duty to not put other drivers at risk.
- Causation: The plaintiff must be able to prove that it was the defendant’s actions or carelessness that caused the victim’s death, not something else.
As the plaintiff, you and your attorney must be able to prove all three of the above elements to recover compensation. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has to prove the defendant is guilty, and they must establish this beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a wrongful death lawsuit is not a criminal lawsuit; rather, it is a civil case. In civil court cases, the plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of evidence only. You may file a civil action even if a criminal case is already pending or complete.
What is the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim?
A statute of limitations means you have a time limit to file a claim. When that time limit is up, you no longer have the legal right to file a claim. The statute of limitations clock starts ticking the day the injury or death occurs.
The estate of the victim has the right to pursue both survival claims and wrongful death claims. Survival claims are claims that the victim could have pursued herself had she survived, such as personal injury claims. Wrongful death claims are claims for compensation by persons with a recognized interest in a continued relationship with the victim that suffer harm as a result of the victim's death, such as a spouse or a minor child. The beneficiaries of survival and wrongful death claims are not always the same. For example, it's possible that an adult natural child is cut out of a will that gives all the estate to a stepparent, but the adult natural child suffers compensable losses associated with her parent's death. That adult natural child would have a wrongful death claim even though not a beneficiary of the estate. If the estate of the victim chooses not to pursue wrongful death claims within six months of the victim's death, then any wrongful death beneficiaries may pursue such claims independently of the estate.
Conversely, wrongful death beneficiaries are not permitted to pursue wrongful death claims independently if the estate chooses to pursue such claims, because the estate would control the claims. Both survival and wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of death.
We understand if you feel overwhelmed as the family member in a wrongful death case. However, you should consider contacting an attorney immediately after a wrongful death, despite any statute of limitations. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to secure quality evidence and strengthen your case. The compassionate team at KBG Injury Law can help.
How long will my wrongful death case take?
After the death of a loved one, we understand the last thing you want to think about is a lengthy legal battle. However, insurance companies know this too, and will often take advantage of it by quickly extending a settlement offer as soon as possible. That first offer may sound acceptable to the untrained ear, but it is typically never anywhere close to the compensation you need, or to which you and your family are entitled. It is simply a tactic to keep you from speaking to an experienced attorney, like the wrongful death attorneys at KBG Injury Law, who can properly value your claim and likely get them to pay significantly more.
Working with a lawyer to secure fair compensation can take longer, from about a year to four years, depending on the circumstances of your specific case. Our York, PA wrongful death attorneys will spend that time working on your behalf, handling the legal process from start to finish so you and your family can take the time to heal from your tragic loss.
What is the value of my wrongful death claim?
When determining the value of a claim, the court must consider many factors. This, of course, is not easy. How does a judge place a price tag on comfort, companionship or pain and suffering? If a child lost a parent, how can the judge measure the value of memories that can no longer be made? When calculating damages in a wrongful death case, judges take many variables into account, including:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- The victim’s employee benefits or pensions plan
- Loss of wages
- The amount of money the victim was expected to contribute
This is far from a complete list. The court will also consider the following information about the victim when determining damages:
- Life expectancy
- Earning capacity
- Beneficiary circumstances
When a child is the victim in a wrongful death case, it is not as easy to determine the financial loss. Judges need to speculate how much the family has lost, and will lose, as a result of their child’s death. The judge will determine financial compensation based on the child’s:
- Age, health, habits and life expectancy
- Earning potential
- Relationship to those claiming loss
- Health, age and circumstances of those claiming loss
Similar factors are considered in the death of an elderly loved one. Determining compensation is a difficult process that requires careful consideration of all losses and damages. It is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to ensure the court calculates compensation properly and completely.
How can a York, PA wrongful death attorney help?
It can be difficult to make sure you have all the right pieces in place to make a claim, especially in the throes of grief. Grief can be debilitating, and the law can be complex. You have a right to compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. It is always a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you with your case.
Our compassionate and experienced wrongful death lawyers not only believe in fairness, but we also genuinely care. We will gather all the evidence you need for your case, and provide knowledgeable legal advice every step of the way. Most importantly, our lawyers will work to ensure you secure the compensation you and your family deserve.
Leave it to us at KBG Injury Law to do the work. We will leave it to you to gain strength and heal.
Is there a wrongful death attorney near me?
KBG Injury Law is located at 110 North George Street, in York. Our offices are near Interstate 83 and Routes 30, 74 and 462.
Trusted York, PA wrongful death lawyers
Request a free consultation with one of the caring legal professionals at KBG Injury Law today to discuss your case. We will explain all of your options and provide you with compassionate advice on how best to proceed. When you work with us, we will investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and pursue the appropriate legal recovery option. We will be supportive and compassionate, and you can count on us to handle the legal issues so you don’t have to. To schedule a consultation, call 717-848-3838 or toll free at 800.509.1011 or fill out our contact form. We have offices in York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Hanover, and Gettysburg, and help individuals and families throughout South Central Pennsylvania.