Losing a loved one, especially unexpectedly, causes tremendous and often unbearable pain. A legal proceeding may be the last thing your family wants to think about after losing someone. If you decide to pursue a wrongful death case, though, your family can receive awards for many types of damages and losses, which can at least relieve some financial burden despite the emotional burden you face.
So, should you bring forth a wrongful death case? Here are some important things to understand about the wrongful death process that may help you decide what’s best for your situation.
Why file for wrongful death?
For many people, a court case can seem overwhelming in the wake of a lost loved one. This is a very understandable feeling. There are a few reasons families choose to pursue wrongful death cases though.
For one, a loss is a financial burden on top of an emotional one. Funerals and burial costs can be quite expensive, and not all families can afford such expenses at unexpected times, at least not without feeling the impact. The loss can also have a severe financial impact if that person had a job to support the family or was a stay-at-home parent. The surviving family members may face a large decrease or total loss of income, or they may face new costs, such as daycare services.
Wrongful death cases can also bring a sense of closure. Many families have benefitted from pursuing a case and feeling some sense of conclusion or justice in what happened. If you think a wrongful death case is appropriate for your situation or something that you would like to pursue, it’s important to understand who can bring the case forward.
Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death case
Only a personal representative or executor named in the deceased’s will can bring forth a wrongful death case. If the deceased died without a will or an appointed executor/representative, there are statutes to determine who is qualified to bring the case. This is almost always a family member, and the court must approve of said person as the deceased’s representative. In Pennsylvania, the only relatives that can qualify to be a representative if the deceased had no will are the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased.
It is important to keep in mind that, if no eligible representatives file a wrongful death case within six months of the death, any beneficiary who was financially impacted by the person’s death can bring the case forward.
If you want to bring a wrongful death case for your loved one and you are eligible to do so, we want to help you. We understand how difficult your situation is, and we can advise you and work through the legal process for you to make sure you receive the largest award you can after such a tragedy.
Written on behalf of Friedman Schuman. Contact our firm for a consultation to discuss your legal matter.