Many deaths are tragic but unavoidable. If someone develops terminal cancer, they will eventually die from it, no matter how carefully they adhere to medical recommendations. Sometimes, in severe weather, crashes occur due to a confluence of events and not one person’s terrible mistake.
However, there are also circumstances where someone clearly is responsible for another person’s death — even if they aren’t criminally liable. People make mistakes, ignore obvious risks or even commit crimes, and people get hurt in the process. When a death is the result of negligence or criminal behavior on the part of a person or business, a wrongful death claim may become an option.
Immediate family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim
Under Pennsylvania law, the spouses, children and parents of a wrongful death victim have the statutory right to pursue a wrongful death claim. The law specifically references these three familial relationships. Those with more distant familial relationships may not have the legal standing to bring such a claim.
A representative of the deceased’s estate can also take action
In a situation where there are no immediate family members with the right to take action on behalf of the deceased or where family members choose not to take action, a representative of the estate can do so. The estate of the deceased can seek compensation for funeral costs and other financial losses related to the victim’s death.
If you believe you have the right to file a claim, taking action quickly is usually wise, as wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations. An experienced advocate can help you learn more.