Although no amount of money can fill the void left by death, when a loved one dies prematurely due to the negligent actions or wrongdoing of someone else, a wrongful death lawsuit is often pursued by the person’s surviving family. Under Pennsylvania law, wrongful death actions can only be brought by a personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate who is either named by the deceased’s last will and testament or appointed by the court during the probate process. This person is generally a spouse, child, or parent.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death law firm can help with all aspects of a wrongful death claim, which seeks to financially compensate surviving family members, beneficiaries, and heirs for the monetary loss experienced when a family member dies prematurely. Some of the damages recovered in wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania include:
- Money the deceased would have contributed to shelter, education, food, and other expenses
- Costs of medical bills incurred by the decedent prior to death
- Value of household services and comfort the loved one would have given such as cleaning, cooking, and providing child care
- Funeral and burial costs
- Estate administration costs
Surviving spouses may also recover compensation for the loss of consortium, affection, and love resulting from the death of a husband or wife. Surviving children may seek compensation for the loss of advice, love, support, inheritance, and guidance that the death of a parent causes.
In addition to these damages, punitive damages may be sought. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate families for the loss of the loved one but are awarded as a punishment for the defendant in a wrongful death claim. Punitive damages are generally awarded when the actions causing the death were deemed deliberate and egregious. Punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of any recovered compensation, which is not capped in the state of Pennsylvania.
When Should a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Filed in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania sets the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims at two years from the date of the loved one’s death. Any claims not brought before this date are not recognized by the courts. For this reason, it’s important to consult with a wrongful death attorney in Philadelphia, PA, right away following a loved one’s untimely passing.