If you are dealing with the loss of a family member that was the result of negligence,, illegal violence, or a wrongful act, you may be considering filing a wrongful death civil suit. There’s a lot to consider and it can be tough to work through the details while you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. Knowing what is involved in the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Statute will help you endure the process.
What’s Considered a “Wrongful Death” in Pennsylvania?
A wrongful death in Pennsylvania can cover a multitude of scenarios. Medical negligence, a car, truck, or pedestrian accident, or law-breaking violence are a few examples. If your family member has fallen victim to one of these unfortunate situations, the surviving beneficiaries may be eligible to receive wrongful death damages.
One important note is that a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed in conjunction with a criminal lawsuit. The difference is that a criminal lawsuit will be pursued by the local court system and can result in jail time. A wrongful death civil suit will award monetary damages to the surviving beneficiaries or estate, depending on certain circumstances.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
For the first six months after the death of the loved one, the representative in charge of the estate must file the lawsuit. If the estate’s representative does not file the lawsuit in the first six months after death, any of the deceased individual’s beneficiaries may file the lawsuit. The wrongful death lawsuit will be brought on behalf of all the remaining beneficiaries of the estate.
Do I Need to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in a Certain Amount of Time?
There is a statute of limitations on wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania, and any lawsuit must be filed by a beneficiary within two years of the death of the family member. If the lawsuit is not filed in the two-year time period, it will be dismissed by the court.
What Types of Damages is a Beneficiary Eligible For?
All damages will be determined in monetary values, however, there are a few different ways this works in Pennsylvania.
If there is a remaining child, spouse or parents of the deceased person, they may be awarded damages for lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. These things are difficult to assign a value to, but they are meant to compensate for the family’s devastating loss.
If there are no remaining children, spouses or parents, the estate representative is able to receive funds to cover medical expenses, funeral costs, and other outstanding matters – not related to lost wages or emotional damage.
It’s important to understand that the damages will be distributed to the beneficiaries according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws rather than the deceased family member’s will.
Get Started with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you’re looking to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to have an attorney knowledgeable about the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Statute and to help you navigate what can be a complex process.
If you’re looking for a client-focused wrongful death attorney near Harrisburg, PA, consider the experienced and compassionate team at Compass Legal Group. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your options at (717) 696-1192.