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 dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one, you know that this definition does not include the extreme emotional pain and economic hardship that those left behind face.
When someone dies as a result of wrongdoing by another person, a private company, a manufacturer, or a government agency, survivors of the victim may be sable to bring a wrongful death suit. Survivors are rarely able to file and fight such a complicated claim alone. Our trusted and experienced attorneys are prepared to take on the burden of a legal claim for you or your loved ones.
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 victims of the Tropicana parking garage collapse.
Contact us by phone or online now to set up an appointment for a free review and consultation.
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 lawyer in your area to learn your legal rights.
Under Pennsylvania law, only the “personal representative of the decedent” may bring a wrongful death claim. This representative 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 get started on your free consultation.
Wrongful Death Damages in Pennsylvania
Wrongful death damages in Philadelphia can be complicated. There are two possible claim types available – a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Claim. An experienced lawyer can explain the details about each claim type.
A family should receive compensation both for direct economic losses as well as non-economic (pain and suffering) losses. Money damages that may be available in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Estate administration expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering
- Lost income and benefits
- Loss of household services, society, comfort, guidance, and support
Non-economic losses relate to grief and emotional loss. There are no set rules for determining pain and suffering settlements. The jury decides the award for each claim if it goes to trial. Otherwise, this will be determined in the settlement. Non-economic losses include:
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of emotional and moral support
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of relationship
- Pain and suffering of deceased before death
Family members who witness the accident can submit a claim for emotional distress in some instances. This is due to the shock and trauma they experience in witnessing something so terrible. These are psychological damages that go beyond what is typically experienced from family members in the unexpected death of a loved one.
Other factors that will be considered include the relationship between the deceased, the deceased’s net income, and his life expectancy. If damages are awarded, the expenses are paid first. These include hospital, medical, and funeral/burial expenses. After this has been taken care of, the rest of the award is split among the family members.