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Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

What is Wrongful Death?

In Pennsylvania, a Wrongful Death is a death caused by “the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.”

Who can bring an action for Wrongful Death?

The spouse, children or parents of the deceased or any combination of the three. For example, if the decedent was married with 2 children and 1 surviving parent, all 4 of those individuals could file a wrongful death lawsuit. The amount of recovery is divided according to the laws of intestacy. Since this is such a specialized area of law, only experienced Wrongful Death lawyers should be sought out for help.

What kinds of damages are recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action?

The basis of a Wrongful Death Action is to compensate the loved ones of the deceased for the losses they suffered as a result of the death. The following are examples of the types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death action:

  • Hospital, nursing and medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Expenses of administration
  • The value of the services the deceased would have rendered to his family had he lived
  • The value of the decedent’s life to his family
  • Lost wages of the decedent
  • Other economic losses

What is a Survival Action?

A Survival Acton is based on the pain and suffering of the loved one following the accident until the time of death. This can mean several seconds, hours, days, or even months. The injured person, had he or she survived, would have had a claim for his pain and suffering. Once he passes, the cause of action passes to his survivors who in essence, “step into the decedent’s shoes” to bring the claim on his or her behalf.

Who can bring a Survival Action?

The personal representative of the deceased is the proper plaintiff in a Survival action.

What kinds of damages are recoverable in a Survival Action?

The damages recoverable in a Survival Action are:

  • The pain and suffering of the decedent from the time of accident until death
  • The loss of gross earning power from the date of injury until the death
  • The loss of earning power from the time of death through his estimated working life-span

How long do I have to bring a claim for Wrongful Death or a Survival Action?

The simplest answer is that both wrongful death and survival actions have a statute of limitations of two years. However, the two year clock may begin at the same or different times.

Wrongful Death

  • The Statute of Limitations begins to run on the date of death. There are no exceptions.

Survival Action

  • In a Survival Action, the Statute of Limitations begins to run on the date of injury. There is one exception to this and that is known as the discovery rule. This means that the Statute of Limitations begins to run on the date the decedent discovers his or her injury. One example of this might be a medical malpractice action. If a doctor misdiagnoses cancer as something else, and the Decedent later discovers she had cancer all along, the clock would begin to run on the date she discovers that she was previously misdiagnosed.

If your loved one has passed as the result of another’s negligence or unlawful violence and you think you may have a claim for wrongful death or a survival action, call the wrongful death attorneys at Igwe Justice. We can thoroughly evaluate your case and answer any questions you or your other family members may have.

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