Losing a loved one is never easy. Sometimes, the circumstances of the loss can make it even more difficult to cope. When someone is unexpectedly taken for us due to the wrongdoing or carelessness of another, a family can be left in emotional disarray as well as financial straits if that person was a provider for the family. While no amount of money can reverse the impacts of such a tragedy, Pennsylvania does provide a legal mechanism for family members to pursue compensation for their loss. This is done through pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law considers a wrongful death to be one that is caused by another’s negligent, wrongful, or illegal acts of violence. Through a wrongful death action, loved ones of the decedent can pursue compensation for the immense loss they have suffered. While Pennsylvania provides another means of seeking such compensation through a survival action, we will focus on wrongful death claims here. It should be noted, however, that people often file both a survival action and a wrongful death claim in such circumstances.
Wrongful death actions may only be filed by parents, children, or a spouse of the deceased. This must generally be done within two years of the death. Failure to file within the two-year time frame means a court may very well bar your claim from being heard altogether. In addition to complying with the statute of limitations, the party bringing the wrongful death claim must be able to prove that:
- The at fault party owed the decedent a legal duty
- The at fault party violated said legal duty
- The violation of the legal duty caused the decedent’s death
- They suffered losses because of the decedent’s death
When such a claim is successfully brought, the claimant will be entitled to compensation for their losses. Compensation in a wrongful death claim are, like the compensation available in other personal injury actions, referred to as “damages.” Damages in these cases are intended to compensate the parties for the losses they have incurred as the result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another. Thus, damages can include compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of the decedent’s income
- Loss of child care and household support
Immediate family members, including a spouse, the parents, or the children, of the decedent may also pursue damages for intangible losses such as those emotional losses and loss of moral guidance as well as loss of affection. It is important to be aware of the fact that losses included in a damages award are calculated from the decedent’s time of death through the expected life span they would have lived but for their untimely death.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
When tragedy strikes, you can count on the dedicated team at Cooper, Schall & Levy to stand by your side and be stalwart advocates on your behalf. Contact us today.