Families affected by the tragic loss of one of their members may also experience financial hardship. When a person dies in an accident caused by third-party fault, his or her survivors can file a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania.
Review the state laws about wrongful death claims to determine the next steps in this challenging, emotional situation.
What constitutes wrongful death?
Pennsylvania defines wrongful death as a fatality that occurs because of another person or entity (a business, for example). The plaintiff in this type of case must show that the death resulted from third-party neglect, negligence, wrongful act or lack of expected care.
Who can file a claim?
If the deceased individual had a will, his or her named personal representative may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of his or her estate. If the deceased did not name a personal representative or that person does not file a claim within six months of the date of death, the person’s surviving spouse, children or other beneficiaries can file an action.
What are the available damages?
Families can seek monetary compensation that covers pain and suffering, loss of comfort and support provided by the deceased person, loss of household services provided by the deceased person, lost wages the person would have likely earned, expenses of administering the estate, final hospital and medical bills, and funeral costs. However, only the person’s surviving spouse and children can receive compensation for loss of comfort and support, pain and suffering, and similar damages.
The personal representative or survivors have two years from the person’s date of death to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania.