Dedicated Guidance for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in PA

Aggressive lawyer seeks justice for grieving families in Somerset

The most devastating accidents are those that take a human life. If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, recklessness or deliberate criminal act, Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law can help you get justice. For more than 15 years, I have fought to hold wrongdoers accountable to the victims and their grieving families. Although no amount of money can ever replace a beloved family member, a damage award can ease your financial hardship and give you much needed closure. In every case I undertake, I fight aggressively to deliver the best possible outcome for my clients.

Who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, people often use the term “wrongful death” loosely to refer to two separate and distinct rights of recovery:

Survival action — This right arises from the victim’s right to sue for personal injury and is called a survival action, because the legal claim survives after the victim dies. A representative of the decedent’s estate may sue to recover the victim’s losses, which include economic losses to the deceased and conscious pain and suffering experienced prior to death. Damages recovered via a survival action go into the estate and are transferred to beneficiaries according to Pennsylvania’s laws of inheritance.

Wrongful death action — A true wrongful death action allows close relatives to recover for their own losses. The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8301, limits the right to sue for wrongful death to:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children of the decedent
  • Parents of the decedent

Wrongful death seeks to compensate the family for economic losses, such as:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of services
  • Reasonable medical expenses related to the injury event
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Other related administrative expenses

However, Pennsylvania courts have also allowed wrongful death plaintiffs to recover for their emotional pain due to their loved one’s death.

There is some overlap to these claims. For example, the victim’s economic losses and the loved ones’ loss of support come from the same pool of money. To avoid a double recovery, courts generally consolidate the case into a single action.

What is the statute of limitations on a PA wrongful death lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is the law that sets the deadline for a person’s right to sue. After the deadline passes, plaintiffs lose their rights forever. In Pennsylvania, families have two years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death action. However, the statute of limitations for a survival action begins at the date of injury and runs for two years. In the case of latent injuries, such as a surgical error the victim is unaware of, the statutory period begins to run on the date the victim discovered the injury or reasonably should have discovered it. Therefore, families must be aware that in cases where the injury does not immediately cause death, there will be two different expiration dates for their right to sue.

Contact an aggressive trial lawyer for wrongful death representation in Somerset

For aggressive advocacy of your wrongful death claim, trust Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law. Call 814-483-7075 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation. I serve clients throughout Somerset County, Bedford County, Cambria County, and Indiana County.