Motor vehicles are dangerous, but they are also an important part of daily life. Most of us ignore the risk that comes from driving or riding in cars so that we can participate in the modern economy. You may only start to think about how dangerous these vehicles are when you lose a loved one because of a crash.
In that situation, you will likely start wondering what rights you have as a survivor of a fatal collision. If the crash was caused by someone other than your deceased family member, you have rights under Pennsylvania law to seek compensation related to the crash.
You may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim
Depending on the circumstances of the collision, you may have the right under Pennsylvania law to file a civil lawsuit related to wrongful death. Wrongful death claims protect people from the financial impact of an unexpected loss.
Family members have protections to help them reach economic equilibrium after losing a family member. In most cases, these protections are only available if the fatal crash is the result of either negligence or a wrongful act on the part of a driver.
It is also important that you understand that typically only spouses, children or parents can seek wrongful death compensation under Pennsylvania law. However, if there is no direct family, the state will also allow a representative from the estate of the deceased to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver.
What compensation can you seek through a wrongful death claim?
You can't just make up a number and file a lawsuit asking for that much money. Instead, any amount of compensation you seek needs to have a basis in the financial realities of your family. Wrongful death statutes allow compensation for hospital bills and other medical expenses, as well as funeral and burial costs.
Beyond that, your family can seek an amount that represents what the deceased could have provided to your family if they had lived a full life. Their lost wages, as well as the services they would provide to the household, can become part of the total amount that you seek. You can also seek additional compensation if your loved one did not die immediately but instead suffered from an injury until they died.
It can be incredibly difficult to try to put a price tag on the suffering of your loved one and the services and support that they provide to your family. A lawyer who is familiar with this area of law can help you understand if you have grounds for a lawsuit and what amount of compensation would be reasonable based on your family circumstances.