Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving all of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
An accidental death is not just a tragedy, but many times is something that could have been avoided. When the death of your loved one occurred because of avoidable misconduct committed by someone else, justice demands a response. Pennsylvania provides that response in the form of a legal claim for money damages.Indeed, damages potentially can be quite substantial. While money does not replace a loved one, it can help provide for the family and dependents of a person who has been tragically killed through the fault of another.
Enforcement of your claim is not automatic, however. To win your claim, you are likely to have to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party or, more likely, an insurance adjuster. If negotiations break down, you are going to have to file a lawsuit and deal with Pennsylvania’s complex rules of evidence and procedure. For that, you are likely to require legal assistance.
Personal Injury Law is All I Do
I have been practicing law for 15 years now, and I have helped my clients recover tens of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. My efforts have earned me an induction into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Club, an honor awarded to fewer than one percent of all lawyers. I can put all of this expertise to work for you and your family in the event of a catastrophic injury.
While most of my clients end up with private settlements without ever having to step into a courtroom, we prepare each case for trial. By being prepared and ready and willing to go to trial we fight to obtain the best possible result for our clients. When an insurance company will not offer just compensation, we are then prepared to go to trial to force the insurance company to pay.
In Pennsylvania, if a person dies in an accident or due to the misconduct of another, there are two different types of claims that may be brought: a wrongful death claim or a survival action. These claims are generally brought by a representative of the family or by the administrator of the deceased person’s estate.
There are significant differences between wrongful death claims and survival actions in Pennsylvania. Contact our firm today if you have any questions or would like to discuss any potential claims.
I highly recommend John Mattiacci, Jr.
John is an excellent lawyer. I hired John after being hit by a drunk driver. In addition to getting me a fair settlement, John was knowledgeable, patient, and thorough. He kept me informed every step of the way and his friendly, easy going manner made it easier for me to recall the disturbing details of the accident and the difficult months following it. I would recommend John to anyone who needs a good lawyer.
– Maude, June 6, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is a Wrongful Death Case?
In Pennsylvania, such a case potentially involves any accident in which a person is killed because of the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person. Claims arise from many types of accidents. These can include fatal car accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, electrocutions, and assault cases. Any accident or incident in which a person is killed due to the fault of another person may create a claim.
The claim is brought for the benefit of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. Under Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Statute, a case can be brought by a personal representative on behalf of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. Often times this means that a representative can bring a suit on behalf of the deceased person’s spouse, children, or parents. (42 Pa. C.S. 8301).
The wrongful death claim is a direct claim on behalf of the family members. This differs from a survival action.
What Damages Are Recoverable In A Wrongful Death Case?
Damages are meant to compensate the spouse, children, or parents of a deceased person for pecuniary loss they have sustained as a result of the family member’s death. These damages include the value of services the loved one would have contributed for the benefit of his or her dependents. Other special damages include reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, and funeral expenses incurred by reason of the injuries that caused the death.
Money obtained through a claim is generally not subject to inheritance tax. The money is distributed according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws. This means that the money is distributed between the beneficiaries as if the person that died did not have a will. These beneficiaries include the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person.
This is a significant difference between a wrongful death and survival action.
What Is A Survival Action?
A survival action is a claim made on behalf of a deceased person’s estate. Survival actions seek to compensate the person that died. The person’s direct claims “survive” the person’s death and are brought on behalf of that person by the administrator of his or her estate.
What Damages Are Recoverable In A Pennsylvania Survival Action?
Pennsylvania’s survival action statute allows recovery for the pain and suffering suffered by the deceased person before that person died. Damages can also include the loss of gross earning power from the date of injury until death, and the loss of earning power, less personal maintenance expenses, from the time of the death of the victim through his or her estimated working life span.
Unlike a wrongful death action, a survival action is a direct claim by the estate and belongs to the deceased person’s estate. Any money recovered through a survival action may be subject to inheritance taxes.
What is the difference between a civil wrongful death action and a criminal prosecution for manslaughter?
There are several critical differences:
- There is no statute of limitations for manslaughter.
- You can win damages in a lawsuit, but not in a criminal prosecution.
- The burden of proof is much lower in a wrongful death lawsuit, making the case easier to win.
- The two proceedings are independent– an acquittal in criminal court doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the civil lawsuit (O.J. Simpson in California).
What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
In principle, you have two years after the date of the accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Since calculating the statute of limitations deadline can be deceptively complex under certain circumstances, however, consult with your lawyer on this matter.
Does my settlement or verdict count as income for federal tax purposes?
The general rule is that the IRS does impose income tax on personal injury settlements or verdicts. The IRS can, however, tax punitive damages (most plaintiffs do not receive punitive damages, however). The IRS can also tax the interest portion of an award, normally a negligible sum.
Experienced Wrongful Death And Survival Action Attorneys
Wrongful death and survival action cases are among the most heart-wrenching types of cases that our firm handles. John Mattiacci has extensive experience handling these cases, in addition to death cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
We represent families who have lost a loved one in an accident and fight to bring those responsible to justice. We are compassionate toward our clients and stop at nothing to pursue those who are at fault.
We have obtained significant recoveries in many cases, but especially wrongful death and survival action cases. John helped represent the family of a man who was attacked and murdered in a bar. John also helped obtained a recovery for the family of a man who was killed in a car accident and whose body not found for more than thirty days.
If you have lost a family member or loved one in an accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact Philadelphia’s John Mattiacci today. John and the firm will make every effort to counsel you and your family through the tragedy and aggressively pursue the ones responsible.