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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

Who Can File a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claim?

In Pennsylvania, the individuals who have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit are quite specific. Under Pennsylvania law, the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the wrongful death victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages resulting from the deceased’s death. The wrongful death proceeds recovered will be distributed among the beneficiaries of the deceased estate in the event the deceased person dies without a will.

What if There is No Beneficiary to File the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In the event that there is no beneficiary under Pennsylvania law with which to bring a wrongful death claim, a personal representative for the deceased may bring an action. In the scenario where there are no beneficiaries as defined by Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws to file a wrongful death claim, the case becomes markedly complex. Generally, if a deceased individual has no spouse, children, or surviving parents, the law might extend the opportunity to more distant relatives, such as siblings or nieces and nephews, depending on the specific circumstances and hierarchy of heirs outlined in the intestacy laws. However, the ability of distant relatives to pursue such a claim may be subject to stricter scrutiny and can vary on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals in these situations should seek a free consultation with the experienced wrongful death attorneys at PhillyLaw to explore their legal options and ensure that the estate and any potential claim are appropriately managed.

Understanding Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Law

The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act enables the family of a deceased person to receive compensation for their loss. This law recognizes the financial and emotional impact that the untimely death of a loved one can have on a family. The damages covered under this Act can include expenses such as funeral costs, medical bills incurred prior to death, lost wages and benefits that the deceased would have earned if they had lived, and compensation for the loss of companionship and emotional support.

The Wrongful Death Act is designed not only to provide financial relief to the bereaved family but also to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions or negligence that led to the death. Legal claims under this Act must be made within two years of the date of death, highlighting the importance of prompt legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the law and to ensure the family’s rights are fully protected. A wrongful death lawyer at PhillyLaw can ensure that you are preserving your rights to seek compensation when you have a wrongful death suit.

How a Survival Action Can Accompany a Wrongful Death Action in Pennsylvania

A separate but related legal action known as a survival action can also be pursued under Pennsylvania law. This distinction is crucial in understanding the full scope of legal remedies available to the families of deceased individuals. While a wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the losses experienced by the family members of the deceased, a survival action is intended to address the rights and losses of the deceased person themselves. Essentially, a survival action allows the deceased person’s estate to claim compensation for the pain, suffering, and financial losses the deceased endured from the time of their injury until the time of their death.

This means, for instance, that if the deceased survived for a period after the incident but eventually succumbed to their injuries, the estate could recover damages for the pain and suffering experienced during that time, as well as for lost wages and other financial losses. The damages recovered through a survival action become part of the deceased person’s estate and are distributed according to their will or, in the absence of a will, according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws.

It’s important to note that while wrongful death and survival actions are distinct, they are often filed together and proceed parallelly in the Pennsylvania legal system. This dual approach ensures that both the impact on the deceased’s estate and the emotional and financial losses suffered by the family are comprehensively addressed. Engaging an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival actions is critical for guiding families through this complex legal landscape and aiding them in achieving the justice and compensation they deserve.

Determining Eligibility for a Wrongful Death Case in Pennsylvania

To determine whether you have a viable wrongful death case in Pennsylvania, several criteria must be evaluated. First and foremost, it must be established that the death of your loved one was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of another. This conduct may range from a wrongful act stemming from negligence, such as careless driving, to intentional harm like unlawful violence. Additionally, it must be proven that the party responsible owed a duty of care to the deceased, breached that duty through their actions or failure to act, and directly caused the death as a result.

Furthermore, there must be surviving beneficiaries or dependents who have suffered financial or emotional loss due to the death. This includes immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, who depended on the deceased for support and companionship. Lastly, there should be recoverable damages, which can include funeral expenses, lost earnings potential, and compensation for the loss of companionship and support.

Given the complexity of wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania, consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial. An attorney can assess the specifics of your case, help gather and analyze evidence, and guide you through the legal process to determine if you have a solid case for a wrongful death claim. Engaging legal counsel early on will also ensure adherence to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which is generally two years from the date of death.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Action in Pennsylvania

In the realm of wrongful death actions in Pennsylvania, “damages” refer to the compensation awarded to the decedent’s survivors for the losses they have suffered due to the untimely death of their loved one. The scope of these damages is broad and designed to cover both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages may include medical expenses incurred due to the final illness or injury of the deceased, funeral and burial costs, and the lost income or benefits the deceased person would have provided were they still alive. This includes future earnings, offering some measure of financial stability to the bereaved family.

Non-economic damages, while harder to quantify, are no less significant. These can encompass compensation for the loss of companionship, comfort, and guidance the deceased would have contributed, reflecting the profound emotional and social impact of the loss. In some cases, the court may also consider the pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death, although this aspect often overlaps with what is recoverable under a survival action.

It is crucial for families to understand that while no amount of money can replace their loved one, the law provides for these damages in acknowledgment of both the financial and emotional burdens they face. The intricate process of calculating these damages requires careful consideration of numerous factors, hence the importance of engaging with knowledgeable legal counsel who can ensure that all potential avenues for compensation are thoroughly explored and pursued.

A Wrongful Death Attorney at PhillyLaw Can Help You

Seeking justice after the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death can be a daunting process, filled with complex legal proceedings and emotional turmoil. This is where the wrongful death attorneys at PhillyLaw step in. If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, an experienced wrongful death attorney at PhillyLaw is here to offer their expertise and support. Our attorneys have extensive experience filing wrongful death lawsuits and understand the intricacies of Pennsylvania’s wrongful death and survival action laws and are committed to guiding you through every step of the legal process. From assessing the specifics of your case to gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies, PhillyLaw is dedicated to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve while you focus on healing and remembering your loved one. Contact us today for a free consultation.