Many people who suffer the tragedy of a relative unexpectedly dying learn about the event quickly. However, not everyone is in close contact with a beloved relative. It is even possible for an individual to not learn about a relative death for months, perhaps years.
If you have an entitlement to damages under Pennsylvania wrongful death laws, you should know that you can pursue compensation from a negligent party. This is why state law mandates that you learn about your rights in a wrongful death action.
An explanation of the law
Rule 2205 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure states that the plaintiff initiating a wrongful death suit must notify each person who qualifies under the law to collect damages from the action. The plaintiff is to inform these individuals of the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit naming the deceased person. The message should specify the court, term and case number for the action.
Methods of notification
One way to provide notice is through registered mail. This allows the plaintiff to track your letter through the mailing route to your home. Registered mail can take longer than ordinary mail, perhaps as long as 10 to 14 days, to reach you. Still, the result helps ensure that you get notification without the letter becoming lost in the mail.
State law also subjects wrongful death notices to local rules or special orders as directed by the court. This means you could get a letter by other means, such as certified mail, which provides proof of the mailing and your receipt of the letter. A court might also opt for simpler communication such as email if the situation warrants it.
State-required notification allows people entitled to damages from a wrongful death case to learn about the lawsuit and decide if they want to participate. So if someone in your family wants to litigate for compensation, you should be able to find out about it as soon as possible.