Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Pennsylvania
Establishing liability is essential for your family to get justice for your loved one’s passing. However, the liable party may not always be clear in fatal car accident cases. Negligent driving is the main cause of these accidents. This means another driver was operating their vehicle in an unsafe or irresponsible manner.
Some examples of driver negligence could include:
- Cell phone use and other types of distracted driving
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving over the speed limit
- Failure to yield to the right-of-way
- Failure to stop at a traffic light or stop sign
- Making unsafe lane changes and illegal turns
Fatal car accidents are also caused in other ways. Inclement weather, hazardous roadways, and defective auto parts can cause motor vehicle accidents to go from minor to deadly.
If you lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, your attorney investigates the cause to determine all at-fault parties.
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Laws
Under Pennsylvania law, an individual or entity that causes the death of another through a wrongful act or type of negligence can be held accountable through a Pennsylvania wrongful death claim.
However, the decedent’s surviving family must follow strict laws in their pursuit of justice.
Here are a couple of the most essential wrongful death laws you need to know if you are interested in pursuing a Pennsylvania wrongful death claim:
Who Has the Right to File a Fatal Car Wreck Claim in PA?
Only wrongful death beneficiaries have the authority to file a fatal car accident claim. However, the law states that the only people who can be considered beneficiaries are the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. The law does not allow other family members or a personal representative to file the claim.
How is Compensation Divided?
Any damages awarded are allocated based on Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws. If the decedent had a surviving spouse, the first $30,000 of damages goes to the spouse. The remaining damages are split evenly between the surviving spouse and the decedent’s children.
The remaining amount would be split between the surviving spouse and the decedent’s parents if the decedent did not have children. If there is no surviving spouse, any damages will be split evenly between the decedent’s surviving children or surviving parents if the decedent did not have surviving children.
If you have questions or concerns surrounding your authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit for a fatal car accident in Pennsylvania, be sure to contact our personal injury attorneys to discuss your concerns further.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Lawsuit?
Under Pennsylvania law, all wrongful death lawsuits must be filed before the two-year statute of limitations expires. If the statute of limitations runs out before you begin to pursue your claim, you can no longer recover compensation. However, it may not always be clear when the statute of limitations will expire for your case.
For example, does the statute of limitations end two years after the decedent’s death? Or does it end two years from the date of their initial injury? What happens if their injury is not diagnosed until a later date? It’s important to discuss these concerns with your attorney to establish your rights.
How to Prove Liability for Fatal Car Accidents
To prove that another party is responsible for causing your loved one’s death after a fatal car accident, your lawyer will determine what caused the collision.
Liable Parties in a Fatal Car Accident
Several parties could be liable, including:
- The Driver – If the driver directly caused your accident due to negligence, they are at fault.
- Dram Shops – If a bar or restaurant over-serves alcohol to some who later causes an accident, the business could be at fault.
- Auto Part Manufacturer – Defective auto parts may have malfunctioned and caused the accident.
- Municipalities – The city is responsible for keeping roads safe and hazard-free. If dangerous roads caused an accident, the city could be liable.
Your Attorney Gathers Evidence to Prove Fault
Your car accident lawyer’s investigation will allow us to gather critical evidence to support your case. To prove that the liable party owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and caused you to suffer considerable damages, liability must be proven based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Such evidence could include:
- Accident reconstructionist reports
- Police reports
- Crash reports
- Safety inspection reports
- Photos of the accident scene
- Pictures of your loved one’s injuries
- Video of the accident
- Forensic evidence, including blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results
- Cell phone records
- Medical records and physician statements
What Is Your Pennsylvania Fatal Car Accident Claim Worth?
Families seeking compensation for a Pennsylvania fatal car accident are entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages. These damages are often specific and might include:
- Loss of society and comfort
- Loss of guidance and support
- Loss of advice and love
- Loss of companionship
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity, including contributions to retirement savings, bonuses, salary increases, and other benefits
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The decedent’s medical expenses as they relate to their fatal car accident injuries
Contact a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer in Pennsylvania Today
Losing a loved one and a fatal car accident can be devastating. But you have an opportunity to hold the liable party accountable and get justice for your family member. Start working on your case as soon as today when you reach out to a dedicated Pennsylvania fatal car accident attorney at Atlee Hall.
Our firm proudly offers no-cost, risk-free consultations to families dealing with fatal car accidents across the state of Pennsylvania. Take advantage of this opportunity when you complete our online contact form or call our office at (717) 393-9596.