Losing a loved one is often devastating and a life-altering experience. If that death was caused by the actions of another, you may have to face some challenging legal issues, as well. There are two types of actions in civil litigation for the family of someone who died due to negligent or intentional circumstances: wrongful death and survival. Navigating this legal situation and understanding the differences between these two claims is crucially important. Pennsylvania permits the recovery of damages due to an accidental death caused by someone else’s negligence or other conduct under two statutes: the Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8301, and the Survival Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8302.
Wrongful Death Suits: Only Spouses, Parents or Children May Bring a Suit for Wrongful Death
Pennsylvania law only provides a cause of action for the spouses, parents or children of a fatal accident victim. If the there are no such parties the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may bring such a claim.
The damages in wrongful death claims are the damage directly incurred by the specified family member. That is, the loss of income and support the decedent would have provided but for the death, medical and funeral expenses for the family, as well as the loss of companionship and related contributions to the family. This can all be difficult to prove in court, especially the last and most powerful loss of companionship, and lay and expert witnesses will likely be needed to demonstrate the loss.
Survival Actions: Only Brought by the Decedent’s Estate, I.e. The Personal Representative
Survival actions seek damages on behalf of the decedent, his or her self, and seek to recover damages had they had survived the accident. This includes the conscious pain and suffering that the decedent was subjected to throughout from the time of the incident until their time of death.
Again, such damages are not always easy to measure or prove in court. Lay and expert witnesses will likely be needed to fully demonstrate.
Talk to an Experienced Survival Action and Wrongful Death Attorney Now
If you have lost a loved one, you need an attorney that can take the pressure off of you and who understands the legal challenges you are facing. Call attorney Gabriel Levin at The Levin Firm today to talk about how we can help. Call (215) 825-5183 and so we can understand your situation, and how we can begin to help.