Available Damages For Wrongful Death Actions In Pennsylvania

In October 2012, on a stretch of turnpike near Norristown, Pennsylvania, a man driving a box truck on a suspended license hit and killed an employee of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The accident also injured a passenger in the box truck and the driver of a Pennsylvania Turnpike vehicle. Along with several other counts, the Montgomery County prosecutor charged the driver with vehicular homicide.

Wrongful death personal injury actions

Wrongful death lawsuits are appropriate and necessary when someone's negligent or reckless behavior causes the death of another person. The only person who can bring this type of claim on behalf of the victim's survivors is a personal representative of the victim. However, these claims can also arise out of criminal conduct.

Types of damages awarded

The court measures the damages of wrongful death actions by actual monetary loss. This includes funeral expenses, medical costs, loss of services and support and lost chance of inheritance. The philosophy of measurement is to achieve just and fair compensation for monetary losses caused by the victim's death, including interest on the damages going back to the date of the victim's death.

At trial, the jury initially determines how much the damages are by reviewing a variety of factors. For example, when the victim is the head of the household who earned wages for the spouse and children, the main factors to be considered are loss of parental guidance and loss of income. Whatever damages determined by the jury, the judge has discretion to adjust the amount of damages awarded.

The right to file a personal injury action survives beyond the victim's death

In addition to the wrongful death claim, the survivors can, through the victim's personal representative, bring a personal injury claim to compensate them for the victim's conscious pain and suffering. Because this lawsuit survives after the victim passes away, it is called a survival action. In this type of action, the jury considers the severity of the victim's pain, how long the suffering lasted, whether he or she was conscious and whether he or she had knowledge that death was eminent.

The law provides a time limit, or statute of limitations, to initiate a wrongful death action. Unless the claimant initiates a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, he or she loses the right of recovery forever.. If your loved one was killed in an automobile accident, consult with a personal injury attorney as early as possible. The attorney can provide the proper advice and vigorous representation that you deserve.