Survival and Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania Personal Injury Cases
Claims for Survival and Wrongful Death may be permitted in Pennsylvania when a personal injury case results in the death of the injured victim.
In Pennsylvania, when a personal is killed due to negligence of a defendant or a defective or unsafe property or product, there may be a personal injury case. There are two claims when the injured victim dies as a result of the incident.
First, there is something called as "Survival Action". These can be understood as the personal injury claim for damages of the injured person if they had survived. The damages would include pain and suffering, wage loss, loss of future earnings.
There is also a potential claim for "Wrongful Death". This is the action of the victim's surviving family members for their loss of their loved one. Included as potential recovery would be loss of solace, companionship, financial support, protection, comfort. Also included could be the funeral expenses. The "present value" of the services that the deceased injury victim would have provided to family members is included. The question is what is the economic value of the services, society and comfort that the decedent would have given to his or her family, like physical comfort, work around the house, etc. An expert witness is allowed to testify as to what those amounts are.
A child is permitted to make a claim in for Wrongful Death claim for the loss of their mother or father's companionship, parental guidance, tutelage, moral upbringing and comfort.
For a survival claim, it must be proven that the victim had some conscious pain and suffering before their death. If the death was instantaneous, then a survival claim cannot be made. There are legal cases that hold that if there is a brief period of consciousness, even seconds, after the incident, then the claim can be brought and it is up to the Jury to decide what the value of that loss is. For example, if it is proven that the victim was briefly conscious and alive after the initial impact in a car crash, there is a Survival claim.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David E. Schreiber
David Schreiber is a partner with Wolpert Schreiber P.C., 527 Main Street, Royersford, PA 19468. He concentrates in Personal Injury and Insurance Disputes. He can be reached at (610) 792-3304. He has been an Attorney at Law since 1994.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.