PA Wrongful Death Laws

Pennsylvania Wrongful Death – Survival Act Damages

Joseph Monaco, 2nd Generation Trial Lawyer

pennsylvania survival act damagesCall me at 215-546-3166

As a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyer, I am often asked about the types of damages that may be recovered if someone is needlessly killed due to the negligence or recklessness of another party such as a corporation or individual.  Fortunately, the families of wrongful death victims are not victimized again as Pennsylvania law favors the rights of families, unlike some other jurisdictions such as New Jersey.  Pennsylvania has two distinct laws that apply when a loved one is needlessly killed, the Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act.  Any damages recovered under the Survival Act will be subject to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax laws.  On the other hand, damages recoverable under the Wrongful Death Act are not subject to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax laws.

Wrongful Death Act Damages

Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act benefits include compensation for medical care received following the accident, funeral and burial expenses and Estate administration expenses.  In addition, the family of the decedent is entitled to be compensated for the support they would have received if the decedent lived his or her normal life expectancy.  This will include such items as shelter, food, clothing, medical care, education, entertainment, gifts and recreation.  In addition to the monetary contributions the decedent would have given the family for support, the family is entitled to be fairly and adequately compensated for the monetary value of the lost services, society and comfort that they would have received from decedent had decedent not been needlessly killed.  This compensation would include such things as decedent’s work around the home and the physical comforts and services provided to the family as well as the emotional society and comfort provided by decedent during his or her expected lifespan.  The family will also be entitled to compensation for loss of services that the decedent would have contributed to his children.   This would include the monetary values of such services as guidance, tutelage and moral upbringing the children would have received if the death had not occurred.

Survival Act Damages

Under the Pennsylvania Survival Act, the Estate is entitled to recover the net amount of the decedent’s earnings from the time of death through his or her otherwise expected lifespan.  When considering the potential earnings of the decedent that are recoverable for the family, you have to subtract the amounts the decedent would have spent on himself or herself during their lifetime for personal maintenance plus the amounts decedent would have provided to his or family. (The latter amounts are recoverable under the Wrongful Death Act).  In other words, you have to deduct from gross earnings, including wages, the amounts decedent would have spent for essential living expenses such as food, shelter and clothing.  The money decedent would have provided his family if the death had not occurred will be collected under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act.

In addition to the above, the Survival Act allows the Estate of the Pennsylvania wrongful death victim to seek compensation for the mental and physical pain, suffering and inconvenience that the decedent endured from the time of the incident through the time of death.  Often, expert testimony is needed to determine if the wrongful death victim survived following the trauma.  In many instances, death may be immediate or delayed by only seconds or minutes.  These situations often have to be evaluated by an expert to determine if the death was instantaneous or whether, for example, the wrongful death victim lived for 30 seconds or 5 minutes following the trauma.

Victim’s Family

If a member of your family has been killed needlessly by the carelessness or recklessness of another corporation or person, you should seek the immediate assistance of a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Lawyer such as myself.  It is very important that the matter be investigated promptly to avoid the loss of crucial evidence and information.  In addition, it is very important for the family to have its questions answered about the legal process and the anticipated steps that will have to be taken to pursue a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claim.  These are complex matters that demand legal counsel.  Call me, Joseph Monaco, at 215-546-3166 or Toll-Free at 1-855-Joe-Legal to make sure your family is protected.

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