Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer Who Will Fight for Your Family’s Rights

Memorial statue symbolizing wrongful death in PhiladelphiaA serious injury can be a tremendously distressing event. Distress turns into tragedy, however, when the victim dies from the injuries. A drunken driver, a defective drug, or a fatigued doctor can all turn into unintentional killers when fate deals a losing hand. I cannot undo this tragedy, unfortunately. However, as an aggressive Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer, what I can do is fight to see that you are compensated to the full extent that the law allows.

The Philadelphia legal system is nothing like small claims court or courtroom drama programs. It is complex and confusing, with arcane rules of procedure. Although relatively few wrongful death claims reach the trial stage, even in settlement negotiations, it is critical to proving to the other side that you are willing and able to win a wrongful death lawsuit if they refuse to offer you fair compensation.

An Aggressive and Caring Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer

I have been practicing law for over 20 years. Of course, this is nothing unusual – many lawyers can say the same. The practices of most lawyers, however, look something like a buffet – one day they’ll be litigating an injury case, and the next they’ll be setting up a trust fund. My practice is not like that. I practice injury law (including wrongful death claims) 100 percent of the time.

In my two decades of practice in Philadelphia, I have seen it all. I know all of the major players and all of their favorite tricks. Adjusters from the major insurance companies know me well because they have faced me more times than they care to remember. They are usually willing to settle, because they have faced me, a proven and winning Philadelphia wrongful death attorney, in court before and they know what will happen if they don’t.

My Clients Speak Out

Jeffrey’s work is without question superior, and his attention to detail is spectacular. I would absolutely recommend him. – Thaddeus

I was hit from behind. The Ins. Company was giving me a hard time. I called Jeffrey and he figured the problem out in an hour. The police officer gave me the wrong numbers for the police report. Awesome job!!!! – Jamie

Other Types of Injury Claims I Handle

I handle the following types of personal injury cases, among others:

Car Accidents: Over a thousand people die on Pennsylvania roads every year. Many if not most of these accidents were caused by someone’s careless behavior such as distracted driving, DUI, or aggressive driving. If that someone was not you, you have the right to full compensation for your injuries, and it is my job to see that you get it.

Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcyclists place themselves at risk every time they enter traffic, because of the lack of frame protection available to a driver in a car. Motorcycle accidents sadly tend to be even more serious than bicycle accidents because they typically occur at much higher rates of speed.

Bicycle Accidents: Bicyclists are incredibly vulnerable on the roads, because they lack frame protection and because a bicyclist lacks the power to accelerate out of a dangerous traffic situation. Even so, the vast majority of fatal injuries are head and neck injuries to riders who were not wearing safety helmets. Unsurprisingly, most bicycle accidents are the fault of the driver, not the bicyclist.

Bus Accidents: A bus accident, whether it involves a SEPTA bus, a school bus, or some other type of bus, presents unique challenges to a claimant seeking compensation for two reasons – (i) the claim is typically filed against the government, which triggers certain restrictions; and (ii) in many cases, there are many victims waiting in line for a limited amount of available compensation.

Truck Accidents: A truck, particularly an 18-wheeler, can carry the destructive power of a missile. Stopping distances are particularly long, especially during adverse weather or downhill grades. Most truck drivers are holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses and are subject to extensive regulations. A good attorney can help you reconstruct the accident to prove that it was the truck driver’s fault.

Medical Malpractice: Doctors are not perfect, and Pennsylvania law does not require them to be. On some occasions, however, a medical mistake will rise to the level of professional misconduct. Indeed, most people would be shocked to learn just how common medical malpractice is. When it happens, however, you are entitled to full compensation.

SEPTA Accidents: Public buses, trains, and trolleys are some of the safest means of local transport in Philadelphia, at least in terms of passenger miles. Nevertheless, the sheer number of SEPTA accidents that occur in any given year is higher than you might imagine. The accident might be the fault of the SEPTA driver, or it might be the fault of a third party such as a private motorist. In most cases, you will be eligible for compensation.

Slip and Fall Accidents: Slipping on a banana peel is not funny in real life, especially if it causes you to break your hip or fall down a flight of stairs. The owner or renter of premises is responsible for making reasonable efforts to identify dangerous conditions on the property, and either repairing them or warning of them. Slip and fall accidents are among the most common type of premises liability claims.

Dog Bites: In Pennsylvania, in some cases, you can win a dog bite claim without even proving that the dog owner acted improperly.  The average dog bite claim is worth tens of thousands of dollars, and some of them are worth much more than that. Of course, most people would hesitate to sue a neighbor over a dog bite if it meant driving him or her into bankruptcy. Fortunately, however, most dog bites are covered by insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who receives compensation out of a Pennsylvania wrongful death award?

In Pennsylvania, wrongful death damages go to the victim’s:

  • spouse;
  • children;
  • parents; and
  • probate estate, to the extent that the estate paid certain expenses (such as funeral expenses).

Amounts are awarded based on need. A financially dependent on the victim, for example, might be entitled to more than other claimants.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, since the victim cannot?

Within the first six months after the victim’s death, only the personal representative of the victim’s estate (appointed by a court if no one is appointed in the victim’s will) may file a wrongful death lawsuit. After six months, a beneficiary may file the lawsuit.

What is the time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

The time limit for filing a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit is two years after the victim’s date of death. The reason for this limitation is that evidence tends to deteriorate over time (witnesses’ memories fade, for example). Ensure you go to a highly experienced wrongful death law firm that understands and can explain all the nuances about your case.

Will my injury verdict or settlement be taxed?

The taxability of verdicts and settlements depends on what the money is awarded for. Damages designed to compensate for the effects of the death itself are not taxable by the IRS.  Two amounts are taxable – judgment interest and punitive damages (if any).

Why do I need an attorney to help me settle out of court with an insurance company?

An insurance company becomes your adversary the moment you file a claim. Insurance adjusters are typically savvy negotiators who know every trick to deny or reduce the value of your claim. For this reason, you are likely to need a professional on your side.

Should I settle my claim or file a lawsuit?

The vast majority of my clients’ claims are settled out of court because settlements are easier to reach and more predictable than jury verdicts. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit, however, to gain bargaining leverage in settlement negotiations.

Can I win a claim against a nightclub if my loved one was killed in a bar fight?

Perhaps. Under Pennsylvania’s dram shop law, you can win a lawsuit against the bar if you can prove that:

  • The attacker is liable for the victim’s death;
  • The attacker was already obviously intoxicated when the establishment sold the alcohol; and
  • The decision to serve alcohol to the attacker led directly to the victim’s death.

Should I resort to mediation to resolve my claim?

Non-binding mediation might be a rational alternative if negotiations are stalled and neither party wants to go to trial. Once you sign a mediation agreement, however, the settlement terms become binding on both parties.

How Is Compensation Calculated in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Obviously, when a person dies, there is no amount of money that can truly compensate the loved ones that the decedent has left behind. So when we talk about money damages in a wrongful death case, we are really talking about the next best thing – being made whole financially after a loved one has passed. Here are some things that are considered when attempting to arrive at a fair compensation amount in a wrongful death case:

  • The decedent’s age at the time of death
  • The decedent’s health at the time of death, and how many years they would likely have lived on but for the negligence of the defendant
  • The decedent’s income at the time of death
  • The earning capacity of the decedent at the time of death, and for the rest of their life. For instance, if a 35-year-old was a waitress but going to medical school, then the court would not only consider what she was earning at the time of her death, but also what she likely would have made had she lived on and become a doctor.
  • How old are any people who depended on the decedent
  • What are the circumstances and living arrangements of any dependents of the decedent
  • The decedent’s education and training
  • The value of lost benefits that decedent would have received had they lived to continue working
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral expenses

Calculating the “value” of human life is never easy, and experts of any kind can be brought in to assist when needed. But in the end, the amount that is being requested must be presented in a tangible way that is supported by objective evidence.

How Are Claims Paid Out?

Usually, the insurance company will pay out the claim to any beneficiaries. However, these policies can have limits pre-set, and if there is any amount that is awarded above the defendant’s insurance payout limits, paying that difference would be the responsibility of the culpable party.

You Pay Zero Legal Fees Unless You Win

At my firm, it is the strength of your claim that matters to me, not the size of your wallet. This means that you can feel free to come to me a committed Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer without a dollar in your pocket – I don’t charge upfront fees, and I won’t bill you until you win your case. In the unlikely event that I fail to secure compensation for you, I will write off your bill before it ever comes due.

Start the Process Today – Contact a Trusted and Proven Philadelphia Wrongful Death Attorney

I am not the faceless representative of a giant law firm who is more interested in brokering billion-dollar deals than securing justice for a person or a family hit by tragedy. I will not delegate your case to a junior associate fresh out of law school – I am a one-man operation, and I handle all cases personally with the help of my incredibly dedicated support staff.

If your loved one has died under circumstances that lead you to believe someone was at fault, contact me, a Philadelphia wrongful death attorney, and we can talk about it – I am available 24/7. To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with me by calling us directly, or fill out my online contact form with your questions.