If you’ve lost a loved one because of a road accident, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity at fault for the crash. To do this, though, you’ll need the assistance of a Philadelphia fatal car accident lawyer.
Car accidents are among the most common killers of working-age adults in the United States at the moment. Tragically, many fatal collisions result from negligent driver behavior.
Here, we detail the processes involved in wrongful death lawsuits and explain how our fatal car accident lawyers can help you at this difficult time.
How a Philadelphia Fatal Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Wrongful death cases arising from car accidents are typically complex, high-value legal actions. Insurance companies fight tooth-and-nail to minimize their liabilities in big cases like this, so you need a dedicated fatal car accident lawyer in Philadelphia if you want to get the biggest possible settlement.
Investigation and Fact-Gathering
Once we take on a fatal accident case, our first task is to investigate the circumstances that led to the incident. This may include reviewing police reports and medical records, collecting eyewitness testimony, working with expert consultants to reconstruct the accident, and using any other pertinent evidence to build our case.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
When you entrust your case to us, we’ll handle any required interactions with insurance companies on your behalf. These multibillion-dollar organizations are notorious for exploiting any available means of minimizing or denying claims, regardless of the validity of the claim or the difficulty of the situation faced by the claimant. So, it’s crucial that you let an expert (like one of our fatal car accident lawyers) handle communications with insurance companies, rather than taking the risk of doing it yourself.
If we can’t negotiate a worthwhile settlement with the at-fault party or their insurance company, we’ll file a lawsuit on your behalf. This doesn’t mean the matter will automatically go before a court; there will be further opportunities for negotiation after the lawsuit is filed, during the discovery process. Most cases settle before going to court, but we’ll fight your case in front of a judge and jury if that becomes necessary.
Why Choose a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer From The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia?
Losing a loved one is among the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do in life. So, as fatal car accident lawyers, we understand that our job often has as much to do with emotional support as it does with legal representation.
The Cochran Firm helps people deal with tragedy every day. Our business is ensuring that our clients’ needs are met as they deal with unimaginably difficult situations, and we’re ready to do the same for you.
If you’re not sure whether you have a viable case on your hands, you can visit us for a free consultation. During that initial meeting, we’ll be able to tell you whether it’s worth your while to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, we have no incentive to encourage you to pursue a case if we don’t think it has the potential to secure compensation for you.
So, there’s no risk for you in coming to see us for a consultation.
Statistics on Fatal Car Accidents in Philadelphia
According to an analysis of federal government data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), almost 43,000 people lost their lives in car accidents in the U.S. in 2021. The biggest contributors to these fatal accidents included speeding, alcohol consumption, and the failure to wear seatbelts, among other “problematic behaviors.”
Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that 2019 brought the fewest road fatalities of any year in the state since record-keeping began in 1928. However, over the following two years, the death rate on our roads rose again despite the decrease in traffic that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proving Liability in Wrongful Death Cases
In order to establish that another person or entity is legally liable for the death of your loved one on the road, you’ll need to be able to show that the party in question was negligent in some way. This means you’ll have to prove the following:
- Duty of care: You must be able to demonstrate that the defendant in the case owed the deceased person a duty of care. This is almost always straightforward in road accident cases, as drivers generally owe other drivers a duty of care while traveling on public highways.
- Breach of duty: You must be able to show that the defendant breached this duty in some way, such as by driving recklessly.
- Causation: You must be able to show that the reckless conduct in question was the direct cause of the death that occurred.
- Actual damages: You must be able to show that you suffered real harm as a result of what happened.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. If you fail to file the lawsuit within this time frame, you will generally lose your right to pursue damages.
Can I sue if my loved one was partially at fault in a fatal car accident?
Yes, you can still recover wrongful death damages if your loved one was partially at fault in their fatal car accident. Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule, per Section 7102 of the state General Assembly, meaning you can still recover damages even if your loved one was partially at fault. However, the amount of compensation received will be reduced by the percentage of their contribution to the incident.
How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?
The time it takes to settle wrongful death lawsuits varies hugely from one case to the next. A few factors may be of relevance here, particularly the complexity and financial value of the claim. Cases that settle during the negotiation phase will conclude much more quickly those that end up before a judge and jury. Roughly speaking, the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
What happens if the fatal accident involved a commercial vehicle?
If a fatal accident involved a commercial vehicle, the company that owns the vehicle may also be held liable. This can involve more complex legal processes as commercial vehicle accidents often involve various federal and state laws and potentially larger insurance policies.
Can I sue if the at-fault driver is also deceased?
Yes, you can still pursue a wrongful death claim if the at-fault driver is also deceased. In such cases, you would typically make your claim against the driver’s estate or their insurance company.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Only the surviving spouse, children, or parents of a deceased person can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Pennsylvania. Other relatives are generally considered not to have standing to do so.
Contact Our Fatal Car Accident Lawyers Today
The pursuit of a wrongful death claim is not just about securing financial stability; it’s also about seeking justice and making Philadelphia’s roads safer by ensuring that reckless drivers are held accountable for their actions and the damage they cause.
To start the process, get in contact with The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia today. You can reach us via the form on our website or over the phone at 800-969-4400.