Wrongful Death Attorney
Have you recently lost a loved one due to another person’s careless or malicious behavior? We’re here to help you navigate Pennsylvania’s wrongful death law. When appropriate, we’ll fight for you and your family to receive compensation for your loss.
Czekaj Law, LLC brings a decade of litigation experience to the table. We believe every situation is unique, which is why we conduct thorough investigations and craft the strongest arguments for each case. When we work with you and your family on a wrongful death claim, our goal is always to achieve the best possible results.
What Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do for you?
When your loved one passed away, you might’ve known right away it was someone else’s fault. Or, in the weeks or months after, you might’ve learned more about the circumstances surrounding the death and begun to suspect negligence. If you believe another person or business is responsible for your loved one’s death, don’t hesitate to reach out to a PA wrongful death attorney.
By hiring a lawyer, you have someone to investigate the death and analyze the strength of a wrongful death case. If you have a valid legal claim, your lawyer will calculate your damages. Then, they’ll aggressively pursue a settlement by filing a wrongful death lawsuit and entering into negotiations with the defendant and their insurer.
Do I Need a Lawyer in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The law doesn’t require you to have an attorney represent you during a wrongful death claim. But it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced lawyer. Partnering with someone who knows the law well and has experience dealing with insurance companies is essential in winning the compensation you deserve.
Why Should I hire Czekaj Law, LLC?
Finding the right law firm is challenging. You need to connect with the lawyer who’s right for you and your circumstances. We recommend you take a look at our backgrounds, including our history of satisfied clients and recognition by the legal industry. Our results speak for themselves. But that isn’t all that sets us apart. We are deeply committed to our community in Central Pennsylvania, and we take great pride in helping our neighbors when they need it most. We pride ourselves on treating clients like neighbors rather than case file numbers.
Listen to What Our Clients Have to Say
“I had a very pleasant experience. Timothy always kept me up to date, listened to all of my suggestions, and gave her best effort. She never gave up and never acted like I was unimportant.” -D.M.
“Very thoughtful of my needs and my children’s needs. Very helpful with the entire situation. Without attorney Czekaj’s guidance, I feel like I would have been lost. Very grateful for his ability to adapt to my situation, especially with my daughter having severe autism and understanding me and her mother’s work schedule is very unusual.”
What to Expect from Your Attorney
The Initial Client Interview
The first step in hiring an attorney is scheduling your free initial consultation either in person, or over the telephone or video conferencing programs. During this conversation, we’ll listen to your story. We recommend you bring all of the documentation and evidence you have, including copies of your loved one’s medical records and bills, any crash or accident report, and any communications with the other parties or insurers. We’ll want to see anything you have that indicates another person or business is responsible for your loved one’s death.
We might ask questions that are difficult to answer. We understand it’s uncomfortable, but we need to know as much as we can about your loved one’s injuries and death to offer accurate advice. We’ll also discuss our fee structure with you. If you agree to our fees, we’ll sign an agreement and get started on your case.
What Your Attorney Will Do Next
Before we can demand compensation from an insurer or someone else, we want to know as much as possible about the fatal incident. We’ll conduct an independent investigation of the accident that took your loved one’s life. This might include a police report, photos, video, business records, medical records, and eyewitness statements. We’ll also learn more about your family and determine who might be entitled to a portion of any wrongful death and survival damages we win.
Our next step is to reach out to the other party or their insurer. We’ll demand that your family receive full and fair compensation for the expenses caused by your loved one’s death and your emotional suffering.
What Is Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act is 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §8301. Under the law, a person or family can bring an action for damages when someone’s negligence, wrongful act, or violence causes their loved one’s death.
A wrongful death cause of action exists for certain family members only, though. You can file a wrongful death claim if you’re the surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent. If no surviving relatives are eligible to file a wrongful death case, then the personal representative of your loved one’s estate can file the lawsuit to recover damages.
Wrongful Death and Survival Claim Compensation
Through a wrongful death claim, you and other family members can recover compensation for:
- Reasonable hospital, nursing, and medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Costs of administering your loved one’s estate
- Lost companionship
- Lost financial support and services
- Grief and emotional distress
Under 42 PA Cons. Stat. §8302, your loved one’s legal claims survive their death. When your loved one was hurt in a serious truck accident, they might’ve survived days or weeks before passing away from their injuries. Starting the day of the crash, your loved one had a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. But they were probably too hurt to pursue it. Your family or the personal representative can pursue some of the compensation your relative would’ve gotten through a personal injury lawsuit.
Who Can Recover Compensation?
Wrongful death damages are for the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the decedent. Each will receive a share of the compensation based on Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws, which means the division is based on the rules used when someone passes away without a will.
How Wrongful Death Compensation is Divided
Under PA intestacy laws, if you’re a surviving spouse, and your husband or wife didn’t leave behind children or parents, you receive the entire award. If they left behind one or both parents, you get the first $30,000, and then one-half of the remaining compensation. If you and your spouse had children, you still receive $30,000 and half of what’s left. If your spouse left behind children that are not also yours, then you receive half the compensation.
If your loved one didn’t leave behind a husband or wife, then the compensation is divided between their children. If there are no surviving children or a spouse, then the parents receive the compensation. If they passed away without leaving behind a spouse, children, or parents, then the compensation is divided among the siblings.
Wrongful Death Settlements
Even if you file a wrongful death lawsuit, your claim might not go to trial. Many people settle these claims with a defendant out of court. Though, more accurately, we’ll settle with the defendant’s insurer. For example, if your loved one died in a car crash, we’ll pursue compensation from the negligent driver’s auto insurance company. Truckers and trucking companies carry considerable liability policies. So do medical professionals and facilities, like nursing homes. We’ll always look for insurance coverage during a wrongful death claim to improve the likelihood of a fair settlement.
There’s no average wrongful death settlement. Every case is unique, and several factors can impact the value of your claim. These factors include but aren’t limited to:
- The type of accident or the circumstances surrounding the death
- Whether your loved one died immediately or endured injuries for a time
- Your loved one’s age and earning potential
- The negligent party’s insurance coverage
- Your lawyer’s skills and determination in fighting for compensation
Common Insurance Issues in Wrongful Death Claims
There are common insurance misconceptions and issues you can run into after a loved one’s death. Don’t confuse receiving life insurance benefits with the same as wrongful death damages. Life insurance benefits are the result of a contract your relative entered into with an insurance company, which were to be paid out on the occasion of their death. The payment doesn’t compensate you for the other party’s negligence, your emotional distress, and other damages.
An insurer isn’t always eager to settle. The insurance company might claim your loved one was the negligent party. In this situation, we’ll have to fight to prove your loved one wasn’t careless, or if they were, it was a negligible amount. Under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rule, you can still receive compensation as long as your loved one was less than half at fault.
Insurers like to keep certain information close to the chest, like policy limits. We’ll always pursue a copy of the insurance policy and its maximum limit. We want to know what exactly the policy covers and how much before we negotiate.
A serious issue is a wrongful denial of your wrongful death claim. But an insurance claim denial isn’t a dead end. By working with a lawyer, you can review your claim and the reason for denial. Your options are to appeal through the insurer’s internal processes or pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Though many wrongful death claims settle, we may recommend you file a wrongful death claim. There are multiple reasons for this. First, we’ll go through the discovery phase of litigation. This is when both sides exchange information. We use depositions, interrogatories (questions), requests for admissions, and demands to produce documents to learn more about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death.
After discovery, we’ll have a much better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. We’ll take this knowledge into settlement negotiations. We may use mediation, an out-of-court process, to try and reach an appropriate sum with the defendant or their insurer.
During a lawsuit, the defendant will have a chance to argue they shouldn’t be held responsible. There are any number of defenses they can bring, including arguing your loved one was negligent and more than half at fault for the incident.
Another defense is the passing of the statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you wait any longer, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss, and the court will very likely grant it.
Common Wrongful Death Claims
Every year, thousands of people are hurt or lose their lives in car accidents in Pennsylvania. Call us today if your loved one died in a collision or from injuries they sustained in a crash.
Let us help you pursue compensation after a negligent truck driver or trucking company causes your relative’s death.
Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Your elderly loved ones should be safe and cared for at their long-term care facility. But neglect and abuse can be fatal. Contact us immediately if you believe the staff, another resident, or someone else abused or neglected your elderly relative and caused their death.
Shootings, Assault, and Other Crimes
Not all wrongful death claims come about because of negligence. Another person’s intentional violent act can cause your relative’s death and give you the right to file a wrongful death suit.
Wrongful Death FAQs
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is when someone’s negligent, malicious, reckless, or violent conduct causes another person’s death.
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit?
You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if your spouse, child, or parent was killed by another person’s negligence, violence, or other wrongful act.
What if the deceased person left behind minor children?
When minor children are involved, their surviving parent might oversee their right to compensation. Or, the court might appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the minor children’s interests.
How much is my wrongful death claim worth?
Every wrongful death case is unique, and there’s no way to determine how much your case is worth without speaking to an attorney.
What do I need to prove to win a wrongful death claim?
If your claim is based on negligence, you’ll have to prove the other party failed to act as carefully as they should have. You also have to show their carelessness was directly and closely connected to your loved one’s death or fatal injuries.
Do I have to share the wrongful death compensation?
Possibly, it depends on whether there are other surviving beneficiaries. If your loved one was survived by only a spouse, only a child, or only a parent, then that individual would receive all of the compensation. But if two or more of these heirs are alive, then compensation is divided between them.
Is wrongful death compensation divided evenly?
No, wrongful death compensation is not split evenly between a surviving spouse, children, and parents. The compensation is divided based on Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws.
Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?
Never agree to a settlement offer without speaking to an experienced wrongful death attorney first. Initial offers are often low. A lawyer will review the offer and explain whether your case is worth more. They’ll also help you negotiate for more.
What is the wrongful death statute of limitations?
Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is 2 years.
Call Czekaj Law, LLC for Help Today
Our experienced litigators are here to help after you suffer a preventable and traumatic loss. Don’t hesitate to call us to discuss your situation and learn whether you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. We’re based in New Bloomfield, PA, but handle cases throughout Cumberland, Mifflin, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry, Juniata, Snyder, Union, Northumberland, Huntingdon, and York Counties. You can reach us by calling (717) 275-9770. Or send us your information through our online form or at firstname.lastname@example.org.