It’s traumatizing when you are a young college student and see the aura of invincibility that comes from being young suddenly and cruelly shattered when a peer dies. College campuses are no strangers to death. Young people pass away as a result of car accidents, suicides, homicides, alcohol abuse or drug overdoses, to name a few common causes. But, it’s still a shock when a young person suddenly dies.
Series of Deaths Rattle Campus
The University of Pennsylvania is going through a rough year in terms of student deaths. In only 13 months, they’ve lost nine students who died in a variety of ways from suicide and plane crash to a brutal murder. Last month, Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, was found dead in a Southern California park after he was stabbed more than 20 times and buried in shallow grave.
Bernstein was home for the holidays when the tragedy occurred. His friend from high school, Samuel Woodward, has been arrested and charged in connection with the case. Bernstein’s death occurred soon after William Steinberg, a freshman, died in a plane crash as he was on a vacation with family members during the holidays.
In addition, a faculty member in the Dental Department, Ricardo Teles, was also found dead in December. His death was determined a suicide. Also last month, a first-year law student died in his dorm room. Bernstein’s death particularly appears to have rattled nerves on campus because it is believed to have been caused by homophobic rage. Bernstein was gay.
When a Death Becomes Wrongful Death
It is tragic to lose a loved one, regardless of age or circumstance. However, when a person dies suddenly and unexpectedly due to the negligence of someone else, the trauma is many-fold. Family members must deal with feelings of anger, bitterness and sometimes, even guilt, as they wrestle with thoughts that they could’ve somehow prevented the death. When a death is caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, a defendant may face criminal murder or manslaughter charges.
But, those charges are adjudicated in criminal court where the defendant is punished if found guilty, but victims’ families don’t receive any type of monetary compensation for the damages they’ve sustained. In such cases, victims’ families may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, future income and benefits that are lost, and loss of love and companionship.
Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed by survivors or immediate family members of the decedent such as a spouse, a child (minor or adult), parents, siblings or anyone who was economically dependent on the deceased individual. Wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania could be complex. It takes an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine the facts of the case and help victims’ families receive maximum compensation for their losses.
As Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyers, we often see that filing these lawsuits, for families, is not just about money. It’s also about holding the at-fault parties accountable and making sure that these types of tragedies do not occur again.