Losing a beloved family member unexpectedly leaves those left behind shocked and wondering why. If this has recently happened to you, the pain and grief can worsen if someone else caused your loss, either intentionally or because they were reckless. You are left with financial repercussions from final medical bills and funeral expenses. You may even be facing the loss of a breadwinner’s income.

If it seems overwhelming now, our compassionate wrongful passing attorneys can help you sort through some steps you can take to recover damages, which are paid as compensation by the person responsible for harming the decedent or their insurance company. Our skilled wrongful death attorneys at McDonald at Law are here to explain the Lancaster wrongful death case process.

What Constitutes a Lancaster Wrongful Death?

Title 42 Pennsylvania State and Consolidated Statute § 8301 states that a wrongful death occurs in Pennsylvania when a person’s negligent, wrongful, or illegally violent act causes another person’s death. The person causing the death may or may not be charged criminally for the family to recover damages. Examples of wrongful deaths are impaired driver vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, and gunshot deaths during a robbery.

A knowledgeable attorney at McDonald at Law could help determine if the case constitutes a wrongful death.

Steps to Take after an Untimely Passing in Lancaster

Each untimely death case is unique, and a seasoned attorney with McDonald at Law could advise a claimant about the best path forward. For instance, if the decedent died in a car accident, an attorney could negotiate with the insurance carrier for a suitable settlement. If the responsible person has substantial assets, an attorney can negotiate a negligent death settlement or file a claim.

If the decedent was shot and killed while walking to a car at a shopping mall and the perpetrator is not caught, an attorney could seek damages from the mall owners or their insurance carrier. These actions are based on negligence, which the representative for the decedent’s family must prove before compensation is awarded.

Determining Negligence

A proactive lawyer with McDonald at Law in Lancaster will ask a client for all the information pertaining to the wrongful death, such as medical records, police reports, eyewitness accounts, and any evidence that would prove negligence. Before settlement talks begin or a claim is filed, the elements of negligence will be scrutinized, including:

  • A duty owed by the responsible party to the decedent to act as a reasonable person would act
  • Breach of the duty, for instance, driving while intoxicated or failure to keep visitors to a commercial site safe from criminals
  • Causation, that the defendant’s act is the cause of the decedent’s harm: if not for the defendant’s acts, the decedent would not have died
  • Damage, in the case of wrongful death, death is the damage

Determining negligence is necessary for a wrongful death claim to be successful and is essential leverage when negotiating with opposing attorneys for a settlement.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Generally, only a personal representative appointed by the family or court can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s heirs entitled to compensation. Before filing a claim, the representative should consult with an attorney to review the required petition that precedes the filing. The petition is a request to file the action. The judge will sign an order authorizing the claim to be filed in civil court, officially appointing the personal representative.

Pennsylvania Rule 2202 allows a family member entitled to recover damages if the claim is successful to file the wrongful death claim if the personal representative has not filed by six months after the wrongful death. This person stands in as trustee for those entitled to compensation in the legal action. Only one person can serve as representative or trustee for a wrongful death action while it is moving through the court. At the claim’s conclusion, the representative distributes compensation determined in the action.

A competent Lancaster attorney at McDonald at Law could assist the family’s personal representative during the untimely passing process.

Consult an Attorney for Help with the Lancaster Wrongful Death Process

Losing a loved one is traumatic and heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there is a monetary component as you worry about replacing the decedent’s income or how you will take care of your children’s education. Pennsylvania law provides this help by allowing you to recover damages from the negligent party responsible for the death.

Our personal injury lawyers are skilled negotiators dedicated to getting you the maximum compensation you will need for your family’s future without the decedent’s contributions. Call the McDonald at Law office, so we can help you navigate the legal aspects of the Lancaster wrongful death cases process.

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