If you received an injury in an accident, you would have the right to compensation. However, if someone you love actually dies in an accident, you may have the right to compensation.
The question is whether you have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Who can file?
Different states have their own statutes about who can file a wrongful death claim. In Pennsylvania, only spouses, children and parents can file a claim. However, some states also allow grandparents, aunts and uncles or siblings to pursue claims. In Pennsylvania, the estate administrators, executors or personal representatives may seek wrongful death damages if there are no eligible claimants. Domestic partners or partners in civil unions may also have rights. Minor children tend to depend on their living parent to file their claims. Even adult children may seek compensation in some states.
Who you can sue?
Wrongful death claims can result from product liability, worker injuries on the job, poorly maintained roadways, motor vehicle accidents or medical malpractice. Therefore, you may file claims against government agencies, medical professionals, employers, drivers who caused car accidents or manufacturing companies.
However, the case is dependent on proving negligence. This means the defendant needed to have a duty to protect the deceased and they breached this duty. This breach needs to have caused the death, resulting in you experiencing financial or other challenges as a result.
Are there filing deadlines?
Like most other matters of law, wrongful death claims have deadlines. Although states have different statutes of limitations, the earliest is two years. Therefore, you need to file your claim within two years of the death of your loved one. In Pennsylvania, you have two years.
If you have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim, prepare your evidence and determine the damages you seek.