Wrongful death and survival are two available causes of action to compensate the relatives of an accident victim. For 111 years, the attorneys at Powell Law have helped individuals suffering the loss of a loved one receive compensation through both of these causes of action. Families in this unfortunate situation require experienced legal counsel to help them distinguish both causes of action and make a complete recovery of their losses.
Pennsylvania statutory law provides in 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2) that: “An action to recover damages for injuries to the person or for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another” must be commenced within two years.
This two-year period begins to run from the time the cause of action accrues. The statute of limitations expires two years from the date of the death in wrongful death actions. In contrast, the statute of limitations expires two years from the date of injury, rather than the date of death.
Only certain individuals, specific family members, may sue for wrongful death. Specifically, the spouse, parents or children of the deceased are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If none of these eligible plaintiffs are available, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death action. Unlike wrongful death, only the personal representative may file suit in a survivor action.
Wrongful death damages focus on the losses to the victim’s family, rather than the decedent. Damages include loss of income, loss of support, and the loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, and other positive contributions to family life. Family members may also recover medical and funeral expenses.
Survival actions focus on the losses to the decedent. Survival actions attempt to recover damages that the victim would have been able to claim in a personal injury lawsuit if the victim had survived. The significant aspect of these damages is the conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent between the time of the accident and the time of death. This could be minutes or years.
The value of a decedent’s positive contributions is always subjective and difficult to prove in strict, economic terms. Pennsylvania juries must make an award that is fair and just under the circumstances of a particular case. It is important that family members retain an attorney familiar with these factors. For over a century, Powell Law has litigated Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival actions in cases ranging from motor vehicle accidents to medical malpractice. Consult the experienced attorneys at Powell Law. Contact us online or call (570) 961-0777. You don’t pay unless we win.