Monday, April 16, 2012

Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In Pennsylvania, including Pittsburghwhen a person dies, the damages they would have been entitled to from a lawsuit go to their estate or survivors. Pennsylvania law says that the estate and survivors are just as entitled to these damages as the deceased person would have been had they survived.

The plaintiff in these cases must have the authority to act on behalf of the deceased. Pennsylvania law allows the executor or administrator of the estate of the decedent to claim damages under our Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act. They are entitled to make claims under both acts, so long as the damages do not overlap or duplicate themselves.

This post will discuss the damages an estate may claim on behalf of a decedent under Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death Act. Under the Wrongful Death Act, the damages recoverable by the plaintiff are as follows:

1. The plaintiff is entitled to be awarded an amount that will cover all hospital, medical, funeral, burial, and estate administration expenses incurred.

2. The plaintiff is entitled to be awarded an amount that will fairly and adequately compensate the family of the decedent (wife, children, parents, etc.) for their loss of any contributions they would have received between the time of the death of the decedent and today. This includes all amounts of money that the decedent would have spent for or given to their family for such items as shelter, food, clothing, medical care, education, entertainment, gifts, and recreation.

3. The plaintiff is entitled to be awarded the value of all sums that the decedent would have contributed to the support of their family between today and the end of their life expectancy.

4. In addition to the monetary contributions that the decedent would have contributed to their family’s support, the plaintiff is entitled to be awarded a sum that will fairly and adequately compensate their family for the monetary value of the services, society, and comfort that their would have given to their family had their lived, including such elements as work around the home, provision of physical comforts and services, and provision of society and comfort.

5. The plaintiff, on behalf of the surviving children, is entitled to be awarded an amount that will fairly compensate for the loss of the services that the decedent as a father or mother would have contributed to their children. It will be your duty to consider the monetary value of such services as guidance, tutelage, and moral upbringing that you believe the children would have received, up to the time you believe such services would have been provided, had the death not occurred.

I will discuss the law that established the scope of these damages in a future post.

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