Assisting Pennsylvania Families After Their Loss
At Stapp Law, LLC, we know that no amount of money can make up for the loss of your loved one. We offer our sincere condolences to you during this difficult time.
I am attorney Gregory Stapp. I bring empathy for my clients to the table as well as determination to obtain justice for them. I firmly believe that you and other members of your family should receive the maximum financial compensation the law allows for your loss after a family member’s fatal accident. If someone else’s negligence caused the death of your loved one, we will provide the assistance necessary to hold that party responsible.
I have been practicing law in the central Pennsylvania and Williamsport area for over 20 years. Throughout my career as a trial attorney, I have helped my clients find closure and safeguard their well-being by defending their interests in mediations or in court. My staff and I are committed to providing you with the support you and your family need during this trying time.
Compensation For Loss Of Income, Pain, Suffering And Punitive Damages
I have represented families who have lost loved ones as a result of automobile accidents, medical malpractice, gas and oil industry-related accidents and construction site accidents, among other tragedies. Each case is unique. However, damages will be awarded based on the specific circumstances of the victim’s death and may include restitution and compensation for:
- Loss of the victim’s income
- Loss of expected future earnings
- Noneconomic losses
- Loss of consortium (love, care and companionship)
- Pain and suffering (emotional and mental anguish or grief)
- Punitive damages against the at-fault party
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Pennsylvania?
You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if your family member, loved one or financial benefactor has lost his or her life as a result of the actions or negligence of any person or entity. Persons eligible to file a formal wrongful death lawsuit to pursue financial compensation include the deceased person’s:
Typically, a successful wrongful death lawsuit will satisfy the following elements:
- The death of the victim was caused (either in whole or in part) by the conduct (or lack thereof) of the defendant.
- The defendant must have been strictly liable for the death or shown to have acted in a negligent manner.
- The victim must be survived by beneficiaries (spouse, children, parents, etc.) who are capable of receiving the financial component of the wrongful death lawsuit.
- Damages were caused by the victim’s death (for example, income loss, medical bills and funeral expenses).
Minimize Financial Hardship And Gain Closure And A Sense Of Justice
Although your loved one is, tragically, gone, I will work hard to ensure that all survivors have the best chance of experiencing minimal financial hardship from the loss.
I understand that it may seem like an added and unacceptable burden on your family to file a lawsuit now. However, I assure you that I will do my best to handle everything as smoothly as possible to minimize any additional suffering for yourself and your family. When you call my Williamsport office to initiate the wrongful death lawsuit, my staff and I will explain the steps built into this process so you can be prepared and well-informed.
Areas Of Challenge In Some Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death laws may seem straightforward but life is not always neatly tied up in a bow. Here are some common areas of conflict or difficulty that arise in some wrongful death cases. I have added comments on my approach to these matters as a dedicated plaintiff’s attorney:
The age and/or occupation of the person who was killed and its relevance: Legal counsel representing a negligent party will often bring up age as a factor in a wrongful death case when the person who was killed was not a wage earner. The opposing attorney’s position may be that a child or an elderly person was not earning a living and therefore compensation to survivors should be less than for someone of working age.
Similar arguments may be made against paying sizable compensation for the accidental death of a homemaker or a disabled adult who did not bring earnings to the family.
When I represent people who have lost family members who were young, old or non-wage-earning, I make a great effort to demonstrate the important role that person played in his or her family, regardless of age or income. I have been privileged to help clients overcome the assumption that wage earning capacity of the deceased person is the most important measure of a wrongful death case’s worth.
Identities of who is eligible to bring a claim: Eligibility for participation in a wrongful death claim is not always straightforward in cases such as cases that involve blended families or estranged family members. When half siblings, stepsiblings, estranged spouses or long-absent children come forward as potential parties to legal action after an accidental death, finding the right and peaceful way forward can be extra challenging.
Laws usually confirm who is or is not eligible, but in cases of controversy, I spend extra time as needed with family members to explain how those laws apply and the implications in a case. Sensitivity and clarity are important, as well as technical accuracy. I am prepared to guide families thoughtfully through times of raw emotion as they prepare to pursue compensation after an accidental death caused by someone else’s negligence.
Insurance policy exclusions: Insurance policies often exclude coverage for deaths in certain circumstances such as due to war, acts of God, suicide or deaths occurring while the deceased person was allegedly committing a crime.
I work hard to uncover all potential sources of compensation after an accidental death. What is excluded in one insurance policy may not be excluded in another. I will also fight unproven claims of suicide and other questionable attempts by an insurer to avoid compensating surviving family members. Furthermore, sometimes unexpected sources of compensation bring the relief that surviving family members need. Part of my job as a wrongful death attorney is to exhaust all potential avenues to recovery for survivors.
Comparative negligence: When a court of law determines that the deceased person (or someone driving a car in which he or she was a passenger) was partially to blame for an accidental death, this fact may cause the wrongful death payout to be reduced.
When I represent surviving family members in such cases, I fight the charges of comparative negligence, when appropriate, just as determinedly as I would for that person if he or she had survived the accident.
Contact A Lawyer With The Experience To Secure Your Future Following A Fatal Accident
Do you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim? Arrange your free consultation at my office to get answers. Please call 570-980-1865 or fill out my online form to schedule an appointment today.