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Wrongful Death and Survival Claims in Pennsylvania


When a loved one passes away, it leaves surviving family members in shambles. Loved ones are not only grieving, they are also dealing with other aspects of the loss such as how they will make up for the lost income, and the loss of contribution to the household. In the best of circumstances, it’s an extremely challenging time. When the death was due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness though, it’s even more difficult for family members to move on.

In these cases, family members can hold the at-fault party to blame for the wrongful death. While a wrongful death claim won’t bring the loved one back, it can help ease the financial burden of the loss, which can help family members move on. In Pennsylvania, there are two types of claims family members can file. These are wrongful death claims and survival claims.

Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim asking the person responsible for the accident for compensation. This compensation can help cover the losses the family sustained as a result of the death. Common types of compensation family members can recover include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Estate administration expenses
  • Loss of contribution to the household such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education
  • Loss of society, comfort, and services
  • Loss of guidance and moral upbringing

These damages are meant to compensate the family for losses they directly incurred as a result of the wrongful death. Unlike in other states, Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuits are not considered a personal injury lawsuit the deceased could have brought forward had they survived the accident. In Pennsylvania, those types of lawsuits are considered survival claims.

Survival Claims in Pennsylvania

Survival claims are filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, they are meant to recover losses the deceased incurred before their death. Unlike wrongful death claims, they do not compensate the family for their losses. Instead, Pennsylvania recognizes that the cause of action resulting in death survives the passing of the individual and their estate can claim compensation for any losses. Damages in a survival claim can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of earning capacity

Similarities Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Claims

While wrongful death claims and survival claims do have their differences, they both result from someone else’s negligence or carelessness, such as a car accident or medical malpractice. If no one was at fault for the accident, family members cannot file either type of claim.

When someone else was at fault, family members have two years from the date of death to file either a wrongful death claim or a survival claim. This is the statute of limitations, and when loved ones file claims after this date, the courts will likely throw out the case. In some circumstances this timeline is extended, such as when the negligence was concealed and not discovered immediately.

Let Our Scranton Wrongful Death Attorneys Help with Your Claim

Losing a loved one is never easy, but losing someone due to someone else’s negligence is especially frustrating. If you’ve lost a family member and someone else is to blame, contact our Scranton personal injury lawyers today.

At Haggerty, Hinton & Cosgrove, LLP, we want to help you through this incredibly difficult time. We know how hard it is to move on after losing someone, and we want to help get you compensation that can make it a little easier. Call us at 570-344-9845 or fill out our online form so we can discuss your case and tell you about the legal options you may have available. You don’t have to go through this alone. Contact us today and let us help.




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