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Pennsylvania’s Wrongful-Death and Survival Actions

When someone sustains fatal injuries as a result of another’s wrongful act, the victim’s survivors may be entitled to compensation for the damages they have suffered as a result. A victim’s estate may also be entitled to certain damages. The legal actions through which such benefits are obtained are known as wrongful-death and survival actions and are often governed by the laws of the states in which these actions are filed.

Pennsylvania’s wrongful-death and survival action law is based on The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8301, and The Pennsylvania Survival Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8302. The Killino Firm’s Philadelphia accident and wrongful-death lawyers have extensive experience with cases arising out of deaths caused by negligence or defective products. If one of your family members has died in an auto accident, from a dangerous product, or due to medical malpractice or other negligence, The Killino Firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for the loss you and your family have endured.

Pennsylvania Wrongful-Death Actions

wrongful death philadelphiaPennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act provides for the institution of wrongful-death actions by the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate (a decedent) on behalf of certain surviving family members of a decedent who has died as a result of the negligence, unlawful violence, neglect, or wrongful act of another. The recovery of damages by a decedent’s survivors is allowed under the Wrongful Death Act only if no recovery for the same damages was obtained by the injured decedent during his or her lifetime and only if any prior actions for the same injuries are consolidated with the wrongful-death action to avoid duplicate recovery.

Wrongful-Death Damages

The survivors entitled to recover such damages in a Pennsylvania wrongful-death action are limited to a deceased victim’s spouse, children (adult or minor), and parents. Wrongful-death damages are divided among these survivors in accordance with Pennsylvania’s laws of intestacy, the laws that govern the distribution of a decedent’s estate when the decedent did not execute a will. The award will be divided in this manner even if the decedent did execute a will.

Certain wrongful-death damages may also be recovered by a decedent’s personal representative on behalf of the decedent’s estate. These damages will become part of the decedent’s estate and be distributed according to a decedent’s will, if the decedent left a valid will, and according to the laws of intestacy, if the decedent left no will.

Administrators’ Expenses

Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act allows a decedent’s personal representative to recover damages on behalf of a decedent’s estate for all hospital, medical, funeral, burial, and estate administration expenses incurred by the decedent’s estate. These damages may be recovered even if the decedent left no survivors.

Survivors’ Support and Services

Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act allows a decedent’s surviving spouse, children (adult or minor), and parents to recover damages in an amount that will fairly and adequately compensate them for the shelter, food, clothing, medical care, education, entertainment, gifts, recreation, and similar items they would have received during the decedent’s lifetime had the decedent survived. These survivors may also be awarded the pecuniary value of the services the decedent would have given the survivors had he or she survived, including such things as working around the home, provision of physical comforts and services, and the provision of society and comfort.

In addition to the above damages, a decedent’s surviving children may be awarded the monetary value of the loss of services the decedent would have contributed as a parent. These damages may include the guidance, tutelage, and moral upbringing the surviving children would have received from the decedent had the decedent survived.

Pennsylvania Survival Actions

A survival action is brought under Pennsylvania’s Survival Act by a decedent’s personal representative on behalf of a decedent’s estate to recover damages for certain losses (as long as those damages do not duplicate any awarded in a wrongful-death action). Damages recoverable in a survival action may include the monetary value of the decedent’s loss of prospective income, minus costs of the decedent’s personal maintenance, from the decedent’s time of death through his or her estimated lifetime employment period. If the decedent did not immediately die from his or her injuries, survival action damages may also include compensation for the decedent’s gross loss of earnings between the decedent’s injury and death (i.e., without a deduction for the cost of the decedent’s personal maintenance during that time) and for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience endured by the decedent between injury and death. A decedent’s loss of earnings or income may also include the decedent’s loss of retirement and social security income.

Survival-action awards are distributed differently than wrongful-death awards. Because survival benefits are awarded directly to a decedent’s estate, they are distributed according to a decedent’s will or according to the laws of intestacy if the decedent left no will. Thus, in cases in which a decedent left a valid will, survival-action damages may go to entirely different people than wrongful-death damages.

Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.

The Killino Firm’s Philadelphia wrongful-death attorneys are known nationwide for their expertise in wrongful-death cases and their dedication to holding those responsible for someone’s wrongful death accountable through legal action. Contact The Killino Firm for aggressive yet compassionate assistance with your wrongful-death case.

The Killino Firm's highly experienced and dedicated team of personal injury, defective products, and wrongful death lawyers and paralegals, headed by attorney Jeffrey Killino, represents clients throughout the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area in a wide variety of personal injury and wrongful death matters.
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Date published: 07/23/2015
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