Losing a loved one is a tragic situation, and a death caused by someone else’s negligent actions is even harder to accept. While your grief may be thick and difficult at first, it may help somewhat to know that you have a legal way to hold the responsible party accountable.
The wrongful death statute in Pennsylvania gives you the right as a close family member to bring a lawsuit against the other party for the death of your loved one.
To be a wrongful death case, you must show the negligent or purposeful actions of a person or entity that took the life of your family member. You will have to show the other party was acting in a reckless or illegal manner when the death occurred. In most situations, the death was preventable if the other person had not acted in a certain manner. True accident situations do not fall under wrongful death because there was no way to prevent them, and if someone had changed their actions, it would not have altered the outcome.
Wrongful death cases occur quite a bit in certain areas of law. Motor vehicle accidents are probably one of the most common. But you also could sue someone who murdered your loved one. Although, the general idea is that you are seeking compensation for the lost life, so when a person also faces criminal charges, you may have a harder time recouping that money. Still, you have the right to sue someone who killed your family member as long as you can prove the elements of wrongful death.
True accidents that do not fall under wrongful death might include a single-vehicle accident caused by an animal running into the road. There is nobody to hold accountable, and therefore, there is no case. An act of God may also fall under this category.
Every situation is different, though, so you may want to consider all aspects of the situation to determine if negligence led to the loss of life.