Recently, a federal judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a Native American Tribe. Within the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that a section of roadway on the Native American reservation washed away and that a man and a woman unknowingly drove their vehicle into a deep culvert and both lost their lives. Their families were seeking $10 million in damages for their wrongful death.
In the ruling, the judge determined that the defendants were not obligated by rules or any law that required them to maintain the roadway at certain times. Instead, the defendants had the sole discretion of when to inspect and repair the roadway so they were shielded from liability. Not having strong grounds for legal action is, of course, one of the biggest mistakes you could make when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Below are other mistakes that are commonly made.
Speaking About the Case Publicly
A wrongful death happens suddenly, and every case is tragic. Due to the traumatic scenarios that involve a wrongful death, the local newspapers and perhaps even national news media outlets may cover the case. At the very least, the death will become public knowledge and people in the community may reach out to you. While their intentions are good and you do need support at this time, it is important not to speak about the legal case. Do not discuss fault or any fact of the case. Anything you say may be used against you and hurt your chances of claiming full damages.
Speaking to the Insurance Company
The insurance company covering the liable party may contact you shortly after the death and offer a settlement. Their job though, is to reduce the amount of damages they pay you as much as possible. To do this, they will use your words against you and take them out of context to show why they are not liable. A wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia can speak to the insurance company on your behalf and ensure your claim is protected.
Waiting Too Long
The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania is two years. This means you have only two years from the date of the death to file legal action. If you do not file your claim within two years, you will lose your right to claim any compensation at all. Many people think that two years is a long time to file a claim, but it is not. Prior to filing your claim, a lawyer will have to conduct an investigation and collect evidence to fully prove your case.
Failing to Work with a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Philadelphia
Losing a loved one is the hardest thing you will ever go through. Unfortunately, filing a wrongful death claim is never easy, either. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer can guide you through the filing process and give you the best chance of obtaining the full settlement you deserve. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.