Losing someone you love is painful, especially when a death occurs because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Although no amount of money can bring a loved one back, the attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad help families understand how filing a claim for wrongful death after a motorcycle accident can provide some sense of justice and accountability.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In Pennsylvania, wrongful death is defined as any death that is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, unlawful violence, or negligence of another.” A wrongful death claim must be initiated by the executor or personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate. However, if the estate’s representative doesn’t file it within six months, any beneficiary may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of all beneficiaries. To be considered by the court, a wrongful death action must be filed no later than two years from the date of death.
Benefits Of Filing A Wrongful Death Action After A Motorcycle Accident
Accountability. Even if the party who caused your loved one’s death is facing criminal charges, it doesn’t mean they’ll be convicted. A successful civil claim or lawsuit can help hold them accountable no matter what. It may even deter them from being careless, reckless, or negligent in the future, which can save lives.
Financial relief. Losing a loved one suddenly in a motorcycle accident isn’t just emotionally draining—it can put a serious strain on a family’s finances as well. Medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, property damage, and the loss of someone who provided financial support for the household can come with significant financial repercussions. A victim’s spouse, children, and/or parents can recover damages for:
- Loss of companionship, guidance, comfort, and support
- Spouses may claim loss of affection, love, and consortium
- Loss of household services such as child care, cooking, cleaning, and yard work
- Hospital and nursing costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased victim’s income and other financial contributions they would have reasonably made to the household if they had lived
Minimal tax liability. Wrongful death damages are not taxable in Pennsylvania. Proceeds from a wrongful death claim filed after a motorcycle accident are not subject to the deceased’s creditors or probate process and are passed directly to beneficiaries by the estate. If you wish to be compensated for your lost loved one’s pain and suffering or lost wages, the estate must file a survival action.
What Is A Survival Action?
A survival action is a claim that a deceased victim would have been able to bring for their injuries and losses had they survived. When the loved ones of a motorcycle accident victim bring a survival action, in essence, they are taking action similar to a personal injury claim on that person’s behalf. These damages may include the victim’s pain and suffering and wage loss from the time of the accident up to the point of death. Before deciding to bring a wrongful death claim or survival action, it’s vital to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with handling motorcycle accident claims and wrongful death cases.
Proceeds from a survival action must be administered through the probate process and distributed according to a will or Pennsylvania laws of intestacy if there is no will. Survival action damages are also taxable — beneficiaries must pay federal estate tax and Pennsylvania inheritance tax on these proceeds. In addition, compensation from a survival action may be used to satisfy claims of the estate’s creditors.
How A Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Speaking with an attorney is definitely of benefit if you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation. A lawyer can look at the details surrounding your loved one’s motorcycle accident and determine who (if anyone) may be liable for damages. If you have a valid claim, your attorney will do a comprehensive evaluation of the case and advise you of how much it may be worth and the best way to recover maximum compensation. Although their team is there to provide legal advice and services, your attorneys and their staff can be an invaluable source of emotional support during difficult times as well.
Contact A Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing someone you love in a motorcycle accident is traumatic, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, we fight for your rights, hold responsible parties accountable, and help make things right for your loved one and your family. Contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900 to schedule a free consultation today. We have three additional locations in Allentown, Topton, and Stroudsburg, PA.