Cooper Schall & Levy discusses who can bring up a wrongful death suit in Pennsylvania.

Who Has Standing to Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Pennsylvania?

Losing a family member is never easy. It does not matter whether the family was “expecting” the death soon because of an injury or illness or whether the death was sudden. The loss of a loved one is typically a difficult and challenging period for a family. The grieving process and financial hardship can be worse when the death was unnecessary. If your family member’s death was because of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, a Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help you explore your legal rights under Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act.

What is a Wrongful Death?

According to Pennsylvania’s wrongful death laws, an action may be brought to recover damages for a death that is caused by the “wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence” of another person. Many situations can give rise to a wrongful death action including:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, including accidents involving pedestrians, cars, bicycles, trucks, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, and government vehicles
  • Train and airplane accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective product claims
  • Intentional acts of violence
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Fires and explosions
  • Premises liability claims
  • Workplace accidents
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Animal and dog attacks

If family members suspect that another party or person was involved in the death of their loved one, it is usually a wise decision to discuss the circumstances of the death with an attorney to determine if the facts in the case give rise to a wrongful death claim. An attorney familiar with the state’s wrongful death laws can evaluate the case and also determine who has a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit under state law.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

The wrongful death laws for Pennsylvania restrict the individuals who have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Standing refers to the legal right to bring a lawsuit in court. A person’s spouse, children, or parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for damages caused by their family member’s death. The compensation received for a wrongful death claim is divided between the family members according to the percentage they would receive under the state’s intestate laws if the decedent did not have a will.

If a spouse, child, or parent is not eligible to recover damages or there is no surviving eligible family member, the personal representative for the estate may bring a wrongful death action to recover certain financial damages caused by the person’s death. Damages the estate may receive include medical expenses, funeral expenses, nursing care, hospital care, and expenses related to the administration of the estate.

In most cases, the personal representative for the estate files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family members and the estate.

Survival Claims in Pennsylvania

A survival claim may also be filed in some cases of wrongful death. In a survival claim, the personal representative for the deceased stands in place of the deceased to bring any cause of action that survives the person’s death. For example, if the person died because of the negligence of another party, the estate may file a lawsuit based on negligence laws seeking compensation for pain and suffering, loss of lifetime income, and other damages that the person may have been entitled to receive under negligence laws.

Cooper Schall and Levy has a Proven Track Record of Success Handling Wrongful Death Cases

Cooper, Schall & Levy has been handling Pennsylvania wrongful death cases for decades and has a proven track record of success in these cases. In 2018, Cooper Schall and Levy took a wrongful death case to trial, where the case was ultimately settled on Day 5 of trial for $1,665,000. In that case, the victim was getting her nails done at a Philadelphia area nail salon, when a car crashed through the storefront unimpeded, struck and killed the victim. Cooper Schall and Levy worked tirelessly to bring justice and closure to the victim’s family and held multiple parties responsible, including the driver, the nail salon and the shopping center owners, who failed to install appropriate safety devices, such as bollards, to prevent this type of accident from occurring. This is one of many examples of Cooper Schall and Levy’s success litigating wrongful death and survival cases in Pennsylvania. 

Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

Wrongful death laws are complex. The correct parties must file the lawsuit under the correct statutes. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can be extremely helpful. The wrongful death attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy can investigate the circumstances surrounding the death and provide legal advice regarding all options for recovering compensation and seeking justice for wrongful death. Contact us today.