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Wrongful Death Claims—What Damages Are Available?

August 24, 2017 Estate Planning

Wrongful-Death-Claims—What-Damages-Are-AvailableWhen your loved one dies because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, no amount of compensation can bring them back. But you have a right to hold the wrongful party accountable for your losses. What does that include? This blog provides an overview of the damages (monetary compensation) available in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Under Pennsylvania law, the basis for a wrongful death action must be similar to that which the deceased would have had if he or she had survived—it’s essentially a personal injury claim on behalf of the decedent. As a general rule, the wrongful death action is filed by the executor or personal representative of the estate.

Accordingly, the types of damages available are similar to those that would be appropriate in a personal injury claim. Specifically, Pennsylvania allows the executor to seek compensation for the estate for the following losses:

  • Lost wages or income—The estate can seek compensation representing lost income, calculated to the time of retirement
  • Medical expenses—This covers any medical costs incurred by the deceased because of the accident and before death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Estate administration costs—Any expense associated with settling the estate through the probate court
  • The value of lost household services, such as child-rearing, cooking and cleaning
  • The loss of society and comfort, as well as moral guidance and companionship, including loss of consortium (intimate relations)
  • Compensation for pain and suffering (of the deceased as a result of the accident)

Certain damages are available regardless of whether there were any surviving children, parents or spouses—these include out-of-pocket losses, such as medical and estate administration expenses, as well as funeral and burial costs. Damages for loss of society and comfort, for guidance, and for support are only available, however, if there were dependents living at the time of death.

Contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP

At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP, we have fought for the rights of individuals throughout Delaware County since 1980. We offer a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or 302-594-4535 or contact us online.

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