Coping with the loss of a loved one can be tremendously difficult. No one wants to face the death of someone they love. However, it can be an even more difficult situation when the victim's death was caused by the negligence of another person. Such sudden loss can occur in a car accident, as a result of medical malpractice, or because of some other negligent act.
When a person's untimely death is caused by another person's negligence, the deceased person's family has legal rights. Perhaps most importantly, they have the right to bring a wrongful death suit against the negligent party. In a wrongful death suit, the family could hold the responsible person accountable for their negligent acts. Additionally, the family may be entitled to damages related to their love one's death.
There are two main types of damages to which families may be entitled following a wrongful death. The first type of damages are pecuniary damages. These damages are those that help cover the actual costs associated with the person's death. These can include medical expenses that occur before the person dies, funeral expenses, lost wages and more. These types of damages also include pain and suffering, loss of parental guidance, loss of companionship, loss of inheritance and other similar damages.
These damages are calculated by looking at a variety of factors including the deceased's age, education level, family status and occupation. Depending on these factors, the actual awarded damages can vary significantly from case-to-case.
The second type of damages that could be awarded in a wrongful death suit are punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the negligent party. These are awarded much more infrequently in wrongful death cases. In order to be awarded, plaintiffs often have to show malicious wrongdoing on the defendant's part.
It is important for families in Pennsylvania to understand their legal rights when a loved one is suddenly killed by the negligence of another. A wrongful death suit can help a family start to move forward from a tremendous loss. While compensation cannot bring back their loved one, it can help to ensure that a family does not continue to suffer financially because of an accident that should have been avoided.