Losing someone you love is always devastating, but this heartbreak can be compounded when you learn that the death was the result of someone’s negligence and could have been avoided. If your loved one was killed in an accident through no fault of their own, whether due to a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, or a defective product, you should speak with a Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney as soon as possible and find out if you are entitled to bring a claim of wrongful death.
In the meantime, here are some of the basic details you need to know regarding wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania.
How Does Pennsylvania Define Wrongful Death?
According to the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, wrongful death is defined as the death of any individual caused by a negligent or wrongful act. The damages awarded in a Pennsylvania wrongful death case are intended to compensate the surviving family members for any losses arising from the death of the family member.
Wrongful Death Claims v. Survival Actions
Both wrongful death claims and survival actions are tort claims designed to compensate the deceased’s surviving relatives. Each of these legal actions serves a different purpose and compensates the family for different kinds of losses. In Pennsylvania, a wrongful death claim aims to provide compensation for the value of the deceased’s life from the perspective of the decedent. In other words, the survivors’ are being compensated for their loss, including lost income the deceased would have contributed to the household, loss of fellowship and any of the other damages associated with the loss of a loved one.
By comparison, a survival action is meant to provide compensation for the pain and suffering sustained by the victim from the occurrence of their injury until their time of death. A survival action is a claim that the deceased could have filed on their own behalf had they survived. In Pennsylvania, a survival action seeks compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, and the pain and suffering endured by the victim until the time of their passing.
What Are the Most Common Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania?
Wrongful deaths can take place anywhere: at work, at home, on the highway, or even in a medical facility. Although the majority of wrongful death cases are brought about by car accidents, wrongful deaths can occur under a variety of circumstances, such as:
Medical malpractice takes place when a healthcare professional fails to meet the expected standard of care and injures their patient as a result. Medical malpractice claims can be brought against physicians, nurse practitioners, paramedics, hospitals, clinics, or any other medical facility or provider.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
When a car accident is the result of someone else’s negligence, the at-fault driver could be liable to those who were injured. including wrongful death damages for a crash-related fatality.
A defective or faulty product can lead to serious and sometimes even deadly injuries. If this happens, the manufacturer of the defective product could be held liable to the deceased’s surviving family members through a claim of wrongful death.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites are festooned with tall scaffolding, huge machinery, heavy equipment, and other high-risk conditions that make them dangerous places. If someone is electrocuted, falls from a height, is struck by a falling object, or is involved in another negligence-based accident, and dies due to their injuries, their surviving family members could be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Suit?
A wrongful death lawsuit allows the deceased’s family, or their estate, to recover monetary damages, such as the loss of financial contributions, arising from the death of the victim.
Although nothing no amount of money can undo your loss, a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer can aid you and your family in securing the financial compensation you need to pay for unanticipated out-of-pocket costs, such as:
- The deceased’s medical bills prior to their death
- Reasonable funeral and burial or cremation costs
- Loss of job-related income and benefits
To learn more about what forms of compensation you may be entitled to in a wrongful death claim, contact an experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney today.
Who Is Eligible to Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law states that only the executor of the decedent’s estate or their “personal representative” may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is usually a relative named in the will. In the event that the victim died intestate, then their surviving spouse, parents, or children would be eligible to file the suit.
Who is Awarded Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a Pennsylvania wrongful death claim, the damages are dispersed between the deceased’s surviving children, spouse, and parents. They are meant to serve as financial compensation for any damages arising from or relating to their loved one’s death.
In the event that the deceased has no surviving spouse, parent, or child, the personal representative can still pursue damages to remunerate the estate for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Estate administration costs
How is Wrongful Death Proven?
If you lost a family member in a personal injury accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, a Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can fight for your rights to compensation.
To bring a successful wrongful death case, you must prove that.
- Someone died
- The death occurred due to the other party’s negligence
- The deceased has immediate surviving family members, such as a spouse or child
- The surviving family has incurred monetary damages as a result of the death
What Is the Statute of Limitation on Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claims?
In most cases, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations gives the executor of the estate two years from the day of the victim’s passing to bring a claim of wrongful death. This statute is subject to several exceptions that can either extend or decrease the timeline you have to file, so consulting with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney from Edelstein Martin & Nelson is of the utmost importance.
Interesting Related Article: “4 Situations That Warrant a Wrongful Death Lawsuit“