Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

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    When a loved one passes on account of another person’s negligence, it comes as a terrible shock. Surviving family members might not know who can recover compensation from the liable party.

    Fortunately, our firm can help you understand your rights during this difficult time. In general, close family members like spouses and children can seek justice and financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, these cases tend to be some of the most complex, and you could be entitled to benefits if no close surviving family members exist. Our team has been litigating these challenging cases for years and can help you determine the full extent of your rights. We understand how Pennsylvania law will impact your case and, ultimately, your future.

    For a free case assessment, contact our Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 709-6940.

    Who is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

    When someone dies because of the wrongful actions of another party, the surviving family members might be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit under 42 Pa.C.S. § 8301. This type of lawsuit can be initiated by the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. However, if no next of kin exists to file a claim, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is responsible for managing the legal affairs of the estate on behalf of its beneficiaries and can file a lawsuit in their absence.

    The personal representative is typically named in the deceased’s will as the executor, or if there is no will, appointed by the court as the administrator of the estate. Our Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys can help you understand how these rules impact your case. The designation of a personal representative ensures that the lawsuit is managed by someone with the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the estate and its beneficiaries.

    The beneficiaries of the estate typically include the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents, depending on the family structure at the time of death. If the family is unwilling to file a lawsuit, the personal representative can act on their behalf to file it and seek compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of the wrongful death.

    While the personal representative files the lawsuit, any compensation awarded is for the benefit of the deceased’s family members. This means that any damages awarded will be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate, not the personal representative.

    What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions in Pennsylvania?

    In Pennsylvania, there are two distinct types of legal actions that can be brought after someone’s death: wrongful death and survival actions. Wrongful death claims are intended to compensate the surviving family members for losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. This can include things like loss of companionship, emotional distress, and financial support.

    On the other hand, survival actions are brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and are meant to recover damages that the person could have claimed if they had survived.

    Under 42 Pa.C.S. § 8302, a survival action can seek compensation for a range of damages, including the pain and suffering the deceased person experienced prior to their death and lost earnings. This means that if someone died as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, their estate could still seek compensation for the harm that was done to them before passing.

    Keep in mind that wrongful death and survival actions are separate legal claims, and they can be brought independently or together in the same lawsuit. If you’re considering filing a claim on behalf of a loved one who has passed away, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are fully protected.

    Types of Benefits Available in a Pennsylvania Wrongful Lawsuit

    The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are diverse and can include various expenses related to the deceased’s final illness, burial, and other associated costs. These expenses can cover medical and hospital bills, funeral and burial costs, and other related expenses.

    Moreover, damages can also include the lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if they had lived, as well as any other financial support they would have provided to their family members. Calculating lost wages can be complex and requires the consideration of various factors, including the deceased person’s occupation, age, and earning potential.

    Apart from financial compensation, a wrongful death lawsuit can also provide compensation for the loss of companionship and emotional support that the surviving family members have suffered because of the death. This compensation can cover the emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other similar losses that the family members have experienced.

    The specific types and amounts of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on various factors, such as the nature and circumstances of the case, whether treatment was needed before your loved one’s passing, and the needs of the surviving family members.

    How is the Compensation from a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claim Distributed to the Beneficiaries?

    Identifying the beneficiaries in Pennsylvania is a crucial step in the process. Primary beneficiaries typically include the victim’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. However, Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws, which govern the distribution of assets in the absence of a will, influence the specific distribution of compensation among these parties.

    Intestacy laws often determine how wrongful death compensation is allocated among the beneficiaries. In most cases, distribution mirrors the scheme that would be followed if the deceased had died without a will. This means that the settlement is divided among the beneficiaries based on their statutory entitlements, which consider the familial relationship and dependency on the deceased.

    How the Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    In Pennsylvania, one of the most crucial aspects of wrongful death claims that needs to be considered is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a legal term that refers to the time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of the person’s death.

    This timeframe is significant as it highlights the importance of taking prompt legal action following a wrongful death. This is crucial to ensure that the rights of the deceased’s survivors to seek compensation are preserved. If the lawsuit is not filed within the specified timeframe, the court might dismiss the case, and the survivors might lose the opportunity to receive the compensation they deserve.

    Therefore, if you are a survivor of a wrongful death in Pennsylvania, it is essential to seek help as soon as possible. Our team can help you navigate the process and protect your rights.

    Our Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You File Your Claim and Get the Compensation You Deserve

    Contact The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for your free case review with our Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys.

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