We Can Answer Your Questions About Wrongful Death Claims
When a loved one is lost due to the negligence of another, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. At AlpernSchubert, P.C., our compassionate, understanding wrongful death attorneys can provide answers and help you determine what legal options you may have.
Below, we address some of the common questions that clients often have about wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
Not just anyone can file a lawsuit for the wrongful death of another person. The claim must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Although the claim is technically filed by the personal representative, the beneficiaries will be the recipients of any damages awarded by the court.
In general, if the personal representative does not file a claim within six months of the death, any one of the beneficiaries may file suit on behalf of the beneficiary class.
Who Can Be Sued For Wrongful Death?
Any negligent person or entity can be the subject of a wrongful death action. This includes individuals, corporations, or government agencies. A suit can be filed against numerous responsible parties.
For example, if a patient dies in a hospital due to faulty medical equipment or a medication error, one might sue:
- The hospital
- The equipment or pharmaceutical manufacturer
- The nursing staff who administered the drugs or used the medical equipment on the patient
- The physician who ordered the administration of the drugs or use of the equipment
In the event of a car accident, one might sue the driver, the urban planner who designed the roadway, the government agency who failed to provide adequate warnings, the auto manufacturer, and even an establishment that served the negligent driver alcohol, if that was a factor in the crash.
What Kind Of Damages Are Available In Pennsylvania?
If a wrongful death claim is successful, the beneficiaries may be entitled to various types of damages. These damages would be in addition to whatever sanctions are incurred in any criminal suit, and would accrue to the beneficiaries to compensate them for the economic impacts associated with their loss.
Some damages available to survivors in Pennsylvania include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Estate administration expenses
- Lost wages, including benefits and wages the decedent reasonably would have been expected to provide had he or she survived
- Loss of services (child care, housekeeping, etc.)
- Loss of companionship, society and comfort
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
State law determines how the damages are distributed, rather than the decedent’s will. Spouses and children are accorded priority, followed by surviving parents. Siblings are generally not eligible to recover wrongful death damages in the state of Pennsylvania.
Recovered damages cannot be used to reimburse creditors of the decedent. The money must go to the close family members and the estate of the decedent.
How Long Do I Have To File A Wrongful Death Action?
Every state has a different statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. In Pennsylvania, one must file a claim within two years of the date of death. Claims filed beyond the limitations period will likely be dismissed by the court. However, every case is unique and there are some exceptions to this rule.
Contact Us For Answers To Your Questions
With over 100 years of combined experience, our dedicated attorneys are here to help you through these troubling times. Contact us online or call 412-506-9561 today to arrange a free consultation. We are proud to help clients throughout Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.