The last thing any family expects is to lose a loved one due to the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of someone else. Unfortunately, wrongful death claims are not uncommon in Pennsylvania. Here, we want to examine some of the most common causes of wrongful death in the Commonwealth. It is very important for you to work with a skilled wrongful death attorney in West Chester who has extensive experience handling wrongful death claims so that you are able to move forward confidently.
Vehicle accidents remain a leading cause of death across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania each year. When we look at the Department of Transportation statistics, we can see that there were more than 104,000 total vehicle accidents that occurred during the latest reporting year in this state. Out of these incidents, there were 1,129 total fatalities reported.
Just because a person loses their life in a vehicle accident does not necessarily mean that the death was “wrongful.” However, there are certainly times when the actions of other drivers could lead to the family members of the deceased filing a wrongful death claim. This could include accidents caused by distracted driving, drug or alcohol-impaired driving, drivers failing to follow the traffic laws or speed limit, and more. Anytime another driver’s negligent actions cause an accident that leads to death, this could give rise to a wrongful death claim.
Intentional Acts of Violence
When most people think of intentional acts of violence, they think of the at-fault party facing criminal charges. It is true that if a person intentionally causes another person to lose their life (through assault, shooting, stabbing, etc.) that prosecutors will likely file criminal charges. However, the family members of the deceased can also file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court against the same individual. It is certainly possible for both a criminal and a civil case to move forward in these situations. Even if a person is found not guilty, or if they are not charged with a crime at all, family members can still move forward with a wrongful death claim.
Premises Liability Incidents
Property owners have a duty to ensure the safety of their premises. Anytime a property owner fails to uphold their duty and a person loses their life as a result of this, they could face a wrongful death lawsuit. There are various ways that individuals sustain injuries or lose their life as a result of the negligence of property owners. This could include property owners allowing unsafe conditions such as slippery floors, defective stairways or elevators, poorly maintained pools or hot tubs, faulty electrical wiring, and more.
Companies and manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the products they sell are safe for individuals to use or consume. Anytime a person sustains an injury or illness due to a defective product, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the company or manufacturer to recover compensation. Family members could file a wrongful death lawsuit if their loved one lost their life as a result of a product defect.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins have said that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. These errors include prescription medication mistakes, surgical mistakes, failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, patient slip and falls, and more. Anytime the negligence of a medical professional leads to a fatality, it may be possible for family members to file a wrongful death claim.