Have you recently lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, or worse, a malicious intentional act? Your head may be spinning with questions such as:

  • How could my loved one's death have been prevented?
  • How will my family survive without their financial support?
  • How can I hold negligent parties responsible for their actions?

We understand the devastating pain you're dealing with during the grieving process. When you're ready to seek answers, we'll be waiting to help you.


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Saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed away is never easy. Grief is always a painful process, but it's even more difficult to grieve when you unexpectedly lose someone due to preventable circumstances - either negligence or malice.

While the criminal justice system can provide some sense of closure by punishing those who intentionally harm others, sometimes this system fails the families of victims. When these families are let down by the judicial system, civil courts provide an alternate route for justice.

An Innocent Child's Preventable Deathgravestones in cemetary

Death is always tragic, but it's especially devastating when an innocent child dies from preventable circumstances. In September of 2013, 12-year-old sixth-grader Laporshia Massey began to experience trouble breathing while in class at Bryant Elementary School. Massey suffered from asthma, and school officials were allegedly aware of this.

The school had no nurse on-duty that day, as budget restrictions only allowed a nurse to work for two days each week. This meant that there was no health official on campus who could identify the gravity of Massey's symptoms or to recognize the need for immediate medical attention.

With no trained medical professional available, the family's lawyer argued, school authorities should have considered a 911 call. Instead, when Laporshia notified her teacher of the symptoms of an asthma attack, she was simply told to "be calm."

The school did call the family twice to tell them that their daughter felt ill. But according to Daniel Burch, Laporshia's father, neither call sounded especially urgent. Burch ended up driving his daughter to the hospital after she returned home, and she passed away later that evening.

Laporshia's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia, seeking $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.


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Defining Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim is very similar to a personal injury claim, except the victim is no longer alive to represent his or herself. According to Pennsylvania Law, a wrongful death is "caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another." Many wrongful death cases also involve a criminal trial. The results of the criminal trial are inconsequential - families are permitted to sue for wrongful death whether there is a conviction or not.

Examples of situations which may prompt a wrongful death suit include:

  • Intentional violence - Families of homicide victims often seek civil damages outside of the criminal trial. For example, the families of murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman filed a successful wrongful death lawsuit against OJ Simpson after the latter was acquitted for the two murders in a criminal trial.
  • Medical malpractice - When a victim dies from medical negligence, a wrongful death suit may be filed. For example, a doctor may have failed to diagnose a life-threatening condition which could have been treated if it had been noticed sooner.
  • Defective products - Companies are required to ensure that their products are free of dangers before they're put on the market. Defective products can lead to serious injuries and wrongful deaths. For example, defective automobile tires could cause a fatal accident.
  • Motorist negligence - Drivers are required to respect the rules of the road in order to ensure the safety of fellow motorists. If another driver breaches this duty and causes a fatal accident, he or she may face wrongful death litigation. For example, a drunk driver who causes a fatal accident would face criminal charges as well as a lawsuit from the victim's family, if they choose to file one.

Like a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove that negligence caused the victim's death. In Pennsylvania, you must prove four things to determinecandles in church negligence:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care (e.g. to drive safely in order to avoid accidents)
  2. The defendant breached this duty (e.g. by driving drunk)
  3. This breach directly caused the death (e.g. by causing a devastating accident)
  4. The death caused real damages (e.g. loss of consortium for surviving family)

Who Can File A Claim?

Only a representative of the deceased's estate is permitted to file a claim. This representative files the claim on behalf of the "real parties of interest" - defined by the state as parents, spouses, and children of the deceased. If this representative does not file a claim within six months after death, then any of these beneficiary parties are permitted to sue on behalf of all beneficiaries.

In wrongful death cases, like personal injury, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for claims.

Recoverable Damages

No amount of money can bring back a loved one or ease the pain of grief. However, financial compensation can help families gain some sense of closure, punish those responsible for the death, and help ease the variety of financial burdens families may face after the unexpected death of a loved one. Damages which may be awarded include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Estate administration expenses
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering

We understand that during this extremely painful time, a lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, it's important to earn justice for a loved one who has been taken away unexpectedly due to someone else's negligence or intentional violence.

When you're ready to begin this process, the experienced lawyers at Monheit Law will be here to listen and to guide you through the emotional fight for justice.

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