According to Pennsylvania law, “wrongful death” is any fatality that results from another person’s negligence, wrongful act, or illegal violence. However, if you are coping with the wrongful death of a loved one, you know that this definition does not include the extreme emotional pain and economic hardship faced by those left behind.
When someone dies due to the wrongdoing of another person, a private company, manufacturer, or government agency, the victim’s survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Survivors are rarely able to file and fight such a complicated claim alone.
Our wrongful death attorneys are prepared to take on the burden of a legal claim for you and work for justice for your loved one while you grieve and put your life back together as best you can.
At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., we know the loss of a loved one is an incredibly challenging time. That is why our wrongful death lawyers exhibit the highest level of professionalism and sensitivity when pursuing these types of claims.
Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit will seek financial compensation for the survivors, including loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. Our attorneys have experience representing wrongful death claims for a wide range of accidents. In one of the largest construction site accident settlements in history, we recovered $101 million for the injury and wrongful death victims of the Tropicana parking garage collapse.
Contact us by phone or reach out to us online now to set up an appointment for a free and confidential wrongful death case review.
Potential Beneficiaries in a Wrongful Death Case
Each state has its own laws concerning who may file a wrongful death claim. Generally, only close family members may recover damages in this type of action, but this may depend on where you live. Therefore, you should always check with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your area to learn your legal rights and stay updated on any revisions to the applicable laws.
Under Pennsylvania law, only the “personal representative of the decedent” may bring a wrongful death claim. This representative, who may be an attorney or the executor of the victim’s estate, files the claim on behalf of the beneficiaries, who receive any financial recovery. However, if the personal representative of the decedent or the decedent’s estate does not file a case in court within six months of the date of death, any “beneficiary” may do so.
In the event that multiple claims are filed, the court generally consolidates them into one case. This can be confusing, as Pennsylvania law does not explicitly define who may be a beneficiary.
Typically, a beneficiary may be a:
- Spouse, including common law spouses
- Parent, including foster, step, and adoptive parents
- Child, including adoptive, step and foster children
However, other parties may also be beneficiaries in certain cases. For example, if the victim has no surviving spouse, parents or children, more distant relatives such as siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, or cousins, aunts, and uncles may be able to recover.
Consult with the attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., to learn whether you may bring a claim or may be entitled to compensation for a relative’s wrongful death.
Wrongful Death Damages in Pennsylvania
In a wrongful death claim, the beneficiaries of the deceased person may be entitled to various kinds of compensation, depending on whether there are immediate family members who are considered beneficiaries.
Money damages that may be available in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Hospital and medical expenses arising from last illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Estate administration expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to his or her death
- Lost income and benefits the deceased would reasonably have been expected to contribute to his or her family’s support
- Loss of household services, society, comfort, guidance, and support the decedent would have provided to his or her immediate family
While lost income and benefits and loss of companionship and household contributions are damages that are intended to compensate the losses of a decedent’s immediate family may not be awarded if a decedent has no surviving immediate family.
Other damages may nonetheless be awarded. Medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, estate administration expenses, and pain and suffering damages compensate the estate of the decedent and therefore may be awarded even if a decedent has no immediately family.