Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic, leading to devastating consequences, especially when they result in death. In Pennsylvania, the grieving families of motorcycle accident victims may pursue a wrongful death claim to seek justice and compensation for their loss. However, the legal process can be complex and overwhelming during such emotional times. This article aims to provide comprehensive guidance on navigating motorcycle accident wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania, helping families understand their rights, responsibilities, and legal options.
I. Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania:
Under Pennsylvania law, a wrongful death claim arises when a person's death is caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or misconduct of another individual, company, or entity. In motorcycle accidents, this typically means establishing that the accident resulted from the negligence or fault of another party, such as a negligent driver, a poorly maintained road, or defective motorcycle parts. In Pennsylvania, the Wrongful Death Act (42 Pa.C.S. § 8301) allows surviving family members to pursue compensation for their losses. Eligible claimants typically include the surviving spouses, children (including adult children), parents, and personal representatives of the deceased's estate. If there are no surviving individuals in these categories, other parties may have limited eligibility.
II. Identifying Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents:
To file a successful wrongful death claim, the surviving family members must establish negligence on the part of another individual, entity, or company. Proving negligence in a motorcycle accident involves demonstrating the following elements:
1. Duty of Care: Demonstrating that the driver owed a duty of care to the deceased motorcyclist. For example, all drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and exercise reasonable care on the road.
2. Breach of Duty: Showing that the defendant driver breached their duty of care. This may involve proving reckless driving, drunk driving, distracted driving, or other negligent behaviors.
3. Causation: Establishing a direct link between the defendant's breach of duty and the fatal motorcycle accident.
4. Damages: The wrongful death resulted in quantifiable damages, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost financial support, and emotional suffering for the surviving family members.
III. Statute of Limitations:
It's crucial to be aware of the two-year statute of limitations governing wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania. The claim must be filed within two years from the date of the accident. Failing to initiate legal action within this timeframe may result in the forfeiture of the right to pursue compensation.
IV. Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania follows a comparative negligence system, which means that fault can be distributed among multiple parties involved in an accident. This could impact the amount of compensation awarded to the surviving family members. This means that even if the deceased motorcyclist was partly responsible for the accident, their surviving family members may still be entitled to recover damages if the deceased motorcyclist was not more than 50 percent at fault. However, the compensation amount will be reduced in proportion to the deceased's percentage of fault.
V. Expert Investigation and Evidence Collection:
Building a strong wrongful death claim requires a comprehensive investigation and collection of evidence. Working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can be beneficial in this regard. The attorney will work with accident reconstruction experts, medical professionals, and other specialists to gather critical evidence to support the claim.
VI. Recoverable Damages and Compensation:
Families pursuing wrongful death and survival claims in motorcycle accidents may be eligible to recover various types of damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills related to the final injury or illness
- Lost wages and future earning capacity of the deceased
- Conscious pain and suffering of the deceased up until the time of death.
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and emotional support
- Pain and suffering endured by the surviving family members
VII. Settlement Negotiations and Litigation:
Insurance companies representing the at-fault parties may attempt to settle the wrongful death and survival claim quickly and for a minimal amount. It is essential for the surviving family members to avoid accepting any offers without consulting their attorney first. Experienced legal representation can negotiate on their behalf to pursue fair compensation or take the case to court if necessary.
VIII. Importance of Legal Representation:
Dealing with the legal intricacies of a motorcycle accident wrongful death and survival claim can be overwhelming, particularly while grieving. Seeking the assistance of an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney is crucial. A skilled lawyer can navigate the legal process, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for the rights of the bereaved family.
Losing a loved one in a motorcycle accident is an emotionally devastating experience. Pursuing a wrongful death claim and survival can help grieving families find closure, accountability, and financial support during this difficult time. By understanding the legal process and enlisting the aid of a knowledgeable attorney, families can navigate motorcycle accident wrongful death and survival claims in Pennsylvania with greater confidence and effectiveness. Remember, every case is unique, so seeking personalized legal advice is essential to maximizing the chances of a successful claim.
Contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin Today for a Free Consultation About Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When facing the challenging aftermath of a motorcycle accident wrongful death or survival claim, you need a legal team that combines experience, compassion, and relentless dedication to pursuing justice. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, we understand the profound impact such tragedies can have on families, and we are committed to providing unwavering support during this trying time.
With decades of experience handling complex wrongful death claims and survivals in Pennsylvania, our attorneys have a deep understanding of the state's laws and legal intricacies. We leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of justice and fair compensation for your loss. Our law firm has a history of achieving successful outcomes for our clients. We have secured substantial settlements and verdicts in numerous wrongful death cases, providing financial security for grieving families as they navigate life without their loved ones.
Our skilled trial attorneys are not afraid to take cases to court if it means obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. We are fierce advocates, ready to fight for your rights and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
We understand the financial strain families may face after losing a loved one. That's why we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don't pay us unless we win your case. Your focus should be on healing and rebuilding; leave the legal complexities to us.
If you are dealing with the devastating aftermath of a motorcycle accident wrongful death, don't navigate this challenging journey alone. Let van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin be your trusted legal allies. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us start working tirelessly to bring justice and closure to your family.