Losing a loved one is a painful experience. But when their death could have been prevented, caused solely by someone’s careless or intentional act, the loss is even more traumatic. In these situations, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide compensation for the victim’s family members. Understanding who can file a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania is families who want to take legal action. This article explains who can file a claim and what types of compensation can be recovered.
Did you lose a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence? If so, you may have the right to damages. Contact Hagelgans & Veronis to see if you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover the losses caused by your family member’s death. Call (717) 295-7009 for a free consultation with one of our leading wrongful death lawyers in Pennsylvania.
Who Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law gives immediate family members of the deceased the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These family members typically include the victim’s spouse, children, and parents.
Husbands or wives of deceased victims are often the primary plaintiffs in wrongful death claims.
Minor and Dependent Children - Minor children, including adopted children, have the right to bring a wrongful death action. This also extends to adult children who were financially dependent on their deceased parents. Adult children, however, may face unique challenges in these cases, such as proving the extent of their losses, especially when it comes to the level of financial support and parental guidance.
Parents of Minor Children - If the deceased victim is a minor, his or her parents have the right to file a wrongful death claim. This includes both biological and adoptive parents.
Parents of Adult Children - For parents of an adult victim, the right to file a lawsuit can depend on several factors, such as the deceased's marital status and whether or not the victim had any children.
A personal representative can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative is the individual named executor by the deceased or the individual appointed by the court as the administrator of the estate.
What Damages Are Available?
While the type and amount of recovery vary from case to case, the following are common damages available to family members who bring a successful wrongful death claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills resulting from the injuries that led to the victim’s death
- Expenses of administration of the decedent’s estate
- Loss of the decedent’s income (the future income the victim would have earned to support their family)
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of services provided (the work the deceased would have contributed to their household, such as cleaning, childcare, or home repairs)
- Loss of benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Statute of Limitations for Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claims
Each state sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim, known as the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, family members generally have two years from the deceased’s date of death to take legal action. If beneficiaries miss the deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, they generally forever lose their right to secure compensation.
If family members are unsure whether they still have the right to file a claim, they should speak with a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer right away. Doing so will ensure they do not miss any legal deadlines, thus protecting their right to seek compensation.
Consult with a Leading Wrongful Death Attorney in Pennsylvania
Wrongful death lawsuits provide a much-needed way for families to seek justice on behalf of a deceased loved one. Determining who can file these actions is the first step in the process. While spouses, children, and parents are generally the ones who can take legal action against a negligent party, these cases can sometimes be challenging and complex. That is why it is critical to work with a qualified attorney.
Contact Hagelgans & Veronis today to speak with an experienced and compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Pennsylvania. Our legal team has over 125 years of experience handling wrongful death and other personal injury cases and has secured more than $300 million on behalf of our clients. To ensure you receive the maximum recovery possible, work with Hagelgans & Veronis. Contact us online or call (717) 295-7009 to speak directly with an attorney for FREE.