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Wrongful death: Beneficiaries may be family, representatives

When a Pennsylvanian is killed in a fatal accident, the effect can be shocking for close family members. An Erie resident's sudden death is not only tragic by its very nature, but the losses that are felt afterwards can be excruciating. An accidental death caused by another's negligence can be particularly difficult, since losses of this type are often preventable.


wrongful death claim

can't bring a loved one back, of course, but it does have extremely helpful and even healing benefits for family members. A successful claim against a negligent or reckless party can make family members "whole" again, at least in the legal sense, as a claim gives them access to the compensation to which they are entitled. What many don't understand about wrongful death claims is the fact that they can have two different types of beneficiaries: family members or representatives.

In Pennsylvania, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim may be the children, spouse or parents of the person who was killed. Since the deceased often contributed financially or in other important ways to the family unit, the civil courts recognize this loss and its impact on the family through the concept of wrongful death compensation. After the loss of a loved one, the spouse or children may be compensated for the income that the deceased formerly provided to support the family; they also may receive compensation for loss of companionship. Likewise, if the deceased supported his or her parents, they too may be compensated; a deceased individual's parents may also receive compensation if the deceased was a child or a teenager.

If a deceased person doesn't have a spouse, children or parents who would benefit from Pennsylvania's wrongful death statutes, a representative of the deceased may be a beneficiary to a wrongful death claim. This individual can be compensated for costs such as medical expenses, funeral expenses and various administrative expenses brought about by the unexpected loss of life.

Source: Statutes of Pennsylvania, Title 42, "

Chapter 83, particular rights and immunities

," accessed Oct. 24, 2014

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