Of all the types of personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits are the most tragic. Each year, lawsuits filed by family members who have lost loved ones to negligence, crimes, medical malpractice, and car accidents. While there’s no replacing a human life, compensation can alleviate some of the financial burdens on family members and allow them to continue to move forward with the healing process. These cases can take between one to four years to resolve, with compensation varying greatly depending on the particulars of the case. Over the course of this article, we’ll explore the parameters of wrongful death lawsuits and what can be expected from a legal perspective.
Statutes for wrongful death lawsuits are one of the most important legal aspects to understand, as they vary greatly across state lines. In Pennsylvania, claims must be filed within two years of the fatality. There are, however, some exceptions to this statute, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, the cause of death, and the culpability of the party in question, may not be readily apparent at first. Sometimes investigations turn up new evidence months after the incident occurred. If there are special circumstances, family members can potentially pursue damages against the defendant even if the two-year mark has passed.
Many wrongful death lawsuits proceed adjacent to criminal cases involving the guilty parties. Information and evidence from these criminal proceedings often come into play while pursuing damages. Something that’s important to understand, however, is that the verdict of the criminal case does not always determine the success or failure of the wrongful death lawsuit. If the defendant is found not guilty by virtue of reasonable doubt, but the jury of the wrongful death lawsuit feel that the evidence is sufficient to prove they were at least partially responsible for the fatality, then the family members can still recover financial compensation.
Given the complexity of wrongful death lawsuits, especially when linked to a criminal case, it is absolutely vital to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before pursuing damages. Handling a case of this magnitude, with limited legal knowledge, and in the wake of losing a loved one, is a very difficult endeavor. By employing the services of a trained legal professional, you ensure that your lawsuit has the greatest chance to succeed, and that you receive the best financial compensation possible. While no amount of money will ever be sufficient to fill the void left by losing a loved one, this compensation may provide some relief for family members as they allow themselves to grieve.