As a Pittsburgh wrongful death attorney I am often asked whether I feel bad about capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune. I mean someone dies and immediately attorneys are swarming all over the family trying to sign them up so that the attorney can get a big settlement. It is a fair question for sure.
The other half of that issue is that without wrongful death cases being filed many big corporations would have no incentive to change their safety procedures. And as a result, more people would die in the process.
Here’s an example In Pennsylvania, 40 years ago you couldn’t even sue the manufacturer of a defective product that you bought in a store because you did not have what is called privity with the manufacturer.
Privity is a legal term for a special connection or bond between two persons or companies that allows you to file a wrongful death claim. So using this example suppose you went into a Sears Department store 40 years ago and bought a ladder that was made by a company in California. Suppose also that the ladder was defective and when you were on the top of the ladder it collapsed and caused your death. Believe it or not your family couldn’t sue the manufacturer of the defective ladder because of this privity idea. You technically bought the ladder from Sears not the maker of the ladder. In this example, Sears would argue they are not responsible because all they did was sell product. They didn’t make the ladder.
Can you see the catch 22 the public was in?
It was only through wrongful death lawyers challenging this privity concept in Pennsylvania as absurd that the law was changed. Now of course there is no question that you can sue the maker of the ladder whether they’re located in Pennsylvania or not or whether they actually sold the ladder or not.
That is progress for all Americans including yourself and myself. So at least in my opinion that is why there is value to wrongful death lawsuits. And dare I say it even to Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyers like myself.
I sure don’t expect everyone to agree with that. I know that many people feel wrongful death lawyers are snakes. But at least some of you might see the other side of the issue.