Losing a loved one unexpectedly is a devastating experience. It causes intense grief and can cause major changes to a family’s circumstances. Sometimes, a parent who just lost a spouse will have to take on a second job and absorb a large number of household responsibilities simultaneously while also trying to grieve and support their children, for example.
Every loss triggers consequences for those left behind, but scenarios caused by negligence and bad behavior on the part of others can feel particularly tragic. Pennsylvania law does give those who have lost a loved one through misconduct or negligence on the part of others the option of pursuing a wrongful death claim. Those coping with a recent loss need to be aware of their rights, lest they allow their grief to prevent them from making use of the laws in place for their protection.
Grief causes lasting challenges
Losing a close loved one will often result in a permanent change for those left behind. Every holiday, birthday and major family event will remind people of who they have lost. Some people may experience such profound sorrow, anger or denial that they require medication or counseling support. Others will simply require time to adjust to life after their loss.
In many cases, grief reaches a peak and begins to subside by degrees (and in waves) within about six months of a tragedy, but it can take years for people to feel like life is generally livable after a sudden loss. All too often, family members who have lost a loved one put off addressing practical matters until they feel like they have handled their grief.
The problem with that approach is that Pennsylvania only gives someone a limited window of opportunity to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. Families cannot afford to wait until they feel like they have acclimated to their loss to take legal action. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania is typically two years after someone’s death. Therefore, family members may have to commit to taking legal action before they have truly moved through and processed their grief.
A timely wrongful death lawsuit could benefit those who have lost a loved one both by reducing their financial burdens and by establishing that a business or individual was to blame for their loved one’s death. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can give families both closure and a sense of justice after the untimely passing of a loved one. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.