Pennsylvania Wrongful Death: Determining Compensation
How Do You Put a Value on a Life?
You can't. No amount of money can ever replace a loved one.
However, the Pennsylvania justice system has created a very specific, detailed way of calculating the amount of money survivors should receive in the event of a wrongful death. You'll see from our explanation below that this compensation is not designed to assign a value to your loved one's life.
Rather, the system mainly calculates the economic hardships your family could experience because of your loved one's death. It's a way to help secure your financial future and a way to hold the responsible party accountable for your loss.
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act and Pennsylvania Survival Death Act
There are two different acts under which you can file a wrongful death claim. You can claim different "damages", or monetary compensation, under each one:
Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act – under this act you can claim:
- Medical, funeral, and estate expenses
- "Contributions" your loved one would have made. These include costs such as food, clothing, housing, etc.
- "Support" your loved one would have provided. This includes the cost of things like schooling, medical care, etc.
- The value of lost services and comfort. This is not as straightforward as the other damages. It takes into consideration things like: loss of love, companionship, nurturing, and support that your loved one would have provided.
Pennsylvania Survival Act – under this act you can claim:
- Lost wages – past, present and future loss of earnings, income, or wages
- Pain and suffering sustained by your loved one
The laws surrounding these acts are very complicated, and it's in your best interest to hire an experienced attorney to handle your claim. We've helped clients navigate the legal system after losing a loved one, and we can help you as well. Call us at 412-394-1000 or fill out the form at the top right of this page. We're available 24/7.
Who is Entitled to Receive Money After a Loved One's Death?
If your loved one is killed in an accident and didn't have a will, Pennsylvania laws dictate who should receive compensation and how assets are divided. The laws are complicated and depend on your individual situation. However, they're designed to first protect a surviving spouse and/or surviving children, and money is granted in the following people in this order:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Other family members
Again, it's important to contact an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death claims. The attorney can help you open and handle your loved one's estate, and will interpret and apply Pennsylvania's wrongful death laws.