When a person suffers an injury due to another party’s negligence, the injured party can sue the negligent party for compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. When a negligent party inadvertently causes a fatal accident, the deceased’s surviving loved ones need to pursue a wrongful death claim to secure damages instead of a typical personal injury lawsuit.
Wrongful death lawsuits function very similarly to personal injury suits, as both hinge on the plaintiff proving the defendant’s negligence. However, wrongful death claims carry a few special considerations. It’s a good idea for Philadelphia residents to understand wrongful death and how it applies in civil cases. In the event that a loved one dies due to the negligence of another party, the surviving loved ones should have some idea of what their options for securing compensation might be.
Wrongful Death in PA
Every state has unique statutes and laws surrounding wrongful death. These laws typically dictate who may file a wrongful death claim, what compensation may be claimed, and the statute of limitations for filing such a claim.
In Pennsylvania, wrongful death claims must be filed by a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the beneficiaries of that estate. If such a person does not file a claim within six months of the date of death, any of the beneficiaries of the estate may file a claim on behalf of all the beneficiaries of the estate. The ultimate statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania is two years from the date of death.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death compensation largely mirrors personal injury cases with a few exceptions. Depending on the circumstances of the death in question, the survivors filing the claim may be able to collect compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills for the decedent’s final illness or injury
- All expenses related to the administration of the decedent’s estate
- Lost financial support. The surviving family members can sue for the financial aid or income provided by the deceased. This includes the wages the deceased would have reasonably expected to earn had he or she survived.
- Lost companionship. This may sound difficult to quantify with a dollar figure, but an unexpected death in the family results in a loss of guidance, attention, comfort, support, society, and affection. Damages of this kind are meant to compensate surviving loved ones, so these damages typically only apply when the deceased leaves behind a spouse, parents, or children.
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased during his or her final injury or illness. Again, this sounds like a difficult factor to turn into a dollar amount, but expert witness testimony will help show a judge how the final injury or illness affected the deceased. The judge will award an amount he or she deems fair.
Know Your Rights
Wrongful deaths are tragic incidents, and surviving family members have to deal with legal entanglements, insurance claims, estate administration, and various other logistical concerns while simultaneously processing their grief. This is a difficult time for survivors of wrongful death, and one of the best things people in these situations can do is consult with a reliable Philadelphia wrongful death attorney to guide the claims process and help field some of the legal concerns surrounding the death.
The attorneys at Anapol Weiss are dedicated to personalized legal representation for every client’s unique case. Our team has vast experience over various practice areas, and we put the full extent of our resources and expertise to work for our clients. If you’ve experienced a wrongful death, contact our team to set up a consultation. We’ll help you hold the responsible parties accountable and make every effort to secure the compensation you need to recover.