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Dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event that causes severe or catastrophic injury to someone we care about is unimaginable to most of us. An accident or injury that results in death may leave survivors depressed, confused, and placed in financial jeopardy. Part of the basis of the civil law system is to allocate fault so the people who are responsible for causing bad things are held accountable for their actions. In a wrongful death case, the surviving family is often simply looking for answers. In some cases, families may file suit to prevent this type of harm from happening to someone else in the future. Regardless of the rationale behind the lawsuit, wrongdoers are held responsible and must often pay for the harm they caused. A wrongful death case may commence when a person loses their life due to the carelessness, negligence, or recklessness of another person or entity. It may be the result of an accident, defective product or criminal behavior.

Estates and Wrongful Death

When someone dies, all of their existing bank accounts, assets, property, and securities are now in what is known as an “estate.” Usually, people leave behind wills, trusts, or other documents indicating how these assets should be distributed among surviving family. Wills appoint someone known as an “executor,” who becomes responsible for allocating the assets among the rightful parties. If no specific executor is named or the appointed executor is unable to perform the duties of carrying out the estate, an “administrator” will be appointed pursuant to Pennsylvania law.

This is an important concept to understand in a wrongful death case. Since the deceased party is unable to represent themselves, it becomes the responsibility of the “personal representative” of the estate to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased individual. This personal representative is the executor or administrator of the estate. According to Rule 2202 of the Pennsylvania Code: “[A]n action for wrongful death shall be brought only be the personal representative of the decedent for the benefit of those persons entitled by law to recover damages for such wrongful death.” Surviving parents, children, or spouses may also be entitled by law to bring such lawsuits.

Damages

It is important to note that the monetary damages in a wrongful death case are designed to compensate the survivors, not the deceased individual. Thus, a person bringing a wrongful death action on behalf of another will not be permitted to recover damages for pain and suffering of the deceased individual. Compensation may be provided to cover estate administration costs, loss of income the decedent provided for the family, funeral and burial expenses, or medical expenses incurred prior to the person’s death as a result of the injuries he or she sustained. Importantly, individuals bringing wrongful death lawsuits may also have claims for loss of consortium, that is, the loss of love and affection.

Philadelphia Area Wrongful Death Attorneys

The amount and type of damages you may be able to recover depends on the unique circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. Most of the time, litigation is sought to provide some type of closure and an opportunity to learn what happened, why, and how it can be prevented from harming others in the future. At Solnick & Levin, LLC, our experienced wrongful death attorneys understand that no amount of compensation will bring back your loved one. Our trained professionals know how to provide you with the financial recourse you are entitled to under the law and will able able to help guide you through this difficult time.  If you or anyone you know has lost a loved one due to the actions of another, learn more about wrongful death case options today.

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