Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Rules for wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania

The death of a loved one is tragic and not only leaves a hole in your life but often in your financial future as well. While a criminal investigation and court case may help to determine responsibility in the death of your loved one, it will not help you to fill the void that was left. To help families become financially whole again, they have the right to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation related to the loss of their loved one.

What constitutes wrongful death in the state of Pennsylvania?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed even if criminal charges have been brought against the negligent party or parties (defendant). 

A personal representative of the decedent's estate is the first person who can legally file a wrongful death suit which is done on behalf of the estate. If the personal representative fails to file a claim within six months of the death, then one of the deceased's beneficiaries may choose to file a wrong death claim on behalf of all of the beneficiaries.

What damages can be claimed in a wrongful death suit?

A civil wrongful death lawsuit is filed to seek compensatory monetary damage and not to assign blame or responsibility as is done in a criminal case. You will not have a judge rule that the defendant is criminally responsible for the death, instead, if they rule in your favor, they will typically find the defendant liable for the death and award damages accordingly. In the state of Pennsylvania damages that can be sought in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Medical expenses - You can file a claim for hospital and doctor bills associated with the care and treatment of your loved related to the incident that caused their death.
  • Funeral expenses - Claim amounts can include expenses related to funeral services and burial expenses.
  • Estate administration expenses - The costs associated with the distribution of the estate including legal fees can be included in your claim amount.

If the wrongful death is filed and the decedent left a spouse or children, additional damages can be sought including:

  • Lost wages and benefits - You can file a claim for the amount of money that you would expect that the decedent would have provided as support either through wages or benefits.
  • Compensation for loss of comfort and household services - The defendant can be held liable for a monetary amount to compensate for the loss of physical comfort as well as moral guidance and support.
  • Pain and suffering - Damages may be sought for any pain and suffering the decedent may have suffered prior to dying as the result of the injuries or illness. 

What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim?

As with any court proceeding, there is a limit to file a wrongful death suit. In the state of Pennsylvania, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death, or it will not be heard by the court except under extenuating circumstances. Since it is crucial to file within the two-year time frame, seeking counsel as soon as possible is important to ensure that you will be able to put together a solid case before the deadline expires.

If you have lost a loved one due to a wrongful death, contact an attorney to discuss the next steps in filing a claim to help get the compensation you need and to take some stress off your shoulders during your period of grief.

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
Fax: 412-391-7453
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