An individual who has lost a parent, child or spouse in a car or truck accident will naturally want the party who is at fault for the accident to pay out compensation. This form of compensation is called "pecuniary damages" and can include compensation for lost earnings, loss of prospective inheritance and payment for medical and funeral bills. If the person who caused the accident was particularly reckless and/or criminally liable for the accident, then a plaintiff can seek punitive damages as well.
Anyone who is considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit should contact a top Philadelphia wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Pennsylvania law stipulates that such a lawsuit must be filed no later than two years after the accident; those who wait too long may find that they are unable to pursue legal action.
A lawyer can either represent bereaved family members in court or work out an out of court settlement with the other party. Each course of action has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Taking the Case to Court
Unfortunately, it is possible for a negligent driver who caused a traffic fatality to either not be criminally charged or be found innocent of criminal charges. However, such a driver can still be held legally responsible in civil court and bringing a wrongful death case against the driver can prevent him or her from causing future pain and suffering to others. It is also important to note that compensation provided by a court is often significantly more than what a person would get via an out of court settlement.
Advantages of Settling out of Court
A wrongful death case may take years to resolve. What is more, the other party can appeal against the initial court decision, which may result in the case either being re-tried or the amount of compensation awarded being reduced.
It is also important to note that the court will not necessarily award as much compensation as a person may have been hoping for. A judge or jury will not only consider who was at fault for the accident but also the deceased family member's earnings, life expectancy and even spending habits when deciding on the exact sum of compensation to grant surviving family members.
A bereaved child, spouse or parents who do not want to wait for years to receive the compensation that is their due may want to seriously consider pursuing an out of court settlement. Such a settlement will involve getting less money than one may have hoped to receive but will provide cash in hand to cover medical, funeral and other expenses. A settlement also ensures that a person gets at least some money from the individual who was responsible for his or her pain and suffering.
Losing one or more loved ones as a result of a traffic accident is certainly a very painful experience and knowing what course of legal action to take can be daunting at best. This is why working with a personal injury attorney at this time is a good idea. A good Philadelphia wrongful death attorney will be able to go over the particulars of the case and give personalized advice regarding what course of action would be the best option.