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812 Ivy Street   |   Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
The Pittsburgh Firm
Since 1999 | Experienced Pittsburgh Lawyers   412.802.6666

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Pennsylvania's Top Wrongful Death Attorneys

Helping Families Cope

Losing a loved one is never easy. The hardest part of our job is hearing stories of tragedies about good families and good people losing loved ones. When a child loses a parent. When a parent loses a child. These stories never leave you and remain with us for life.

The clients we help remain in our thoughts and prayers for a lifetime, long after their cases have ended.

We understand that there is no amount of money that is fair when a tragedies occur. The hope is that by obtaining the highest monetary recovery possible, we can accomplish two things:

  1. Make life going forward financially easier. Money will not change the loss of a loved one, but it will make life more economically bearable.
  2. Try to ensure that whatever carelessness or recklessness caused the loss, does not happen again.

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A ‘wrongful death’ case is defined as the loss of loved one because of the negligence of somebody else. When a third party causes the death of someone else, there are typically two different and distinct types of lawsuits which may be brought.

If you or someone you know have loss a loved one, then you need to understand the difference between a wrongful death action versus a survival action.

Wrongful death lawsuits usually result from one of the following areas of law:

What is the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Statute?

The person who dies is known as the decedent. A Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit is a case that gives the spouse, parents and/or children of a decedent the legal right to recover monies for the loss of the individual.

These family members are entitled to recover in their right for their loss as opposed to receiving money as the beneficiaries of the estate of the decedent. This means that certain family members have legal rights to recover simply because of their familial relationship with the decedent.

Any monies recovered under a wrongful death action are not subject to inheritance tax. In addition, any monies recovered are not affected by any debts or legal obligations that the decedent may have had at the time of his/her passing.

However, one other important aspect of wrongful death actions in Pennsylvania is that any monetary recoveries are to be distributed according to the Pennsylvania intestacy laws.

This means they are distributed in the same manner that a assets of a decedent without a will would be required to distribute their assets. In practical terms, this means that children, spouse and parents may all have a claim to monies regardless of the relationship and/or contact of the parties prior to the passing.

Attorneys are obligated to notify all potential beneficiaries (spouse, children, parents) upon the filing of a wrongful death claim and place them on notice that they may be entitled to money.

What is the Pennsylvania Survival Action as it applies in a Wrongful Death case?

A Survival action is an action belonging to the estate of the decedent and not to the family members.

The Purpose of the Pennsylvania Survival Action is to allow the estate of the decedent to recover monies for pain and suffering suffered by the decedent prior to his/her death and/or suffered by his/her estate. In essence, the estate of the decedent is taking the place of the decedent and is entitled to recovery under Pennsylvania law.

The example taught in law school is when an individual is seriously hurt in an accident but does not pass away immediately. Instead, they suffer for a significant period of time. The Pennsylvania Survival Action allows the estate to substitute in the place of the decedent and recover for the actual pain and suffering endured prior to death.

Damages recovered under a survival action belong to the estate, and therefore are subject to estate and inheritance taxes. Also, these monies would pass under the decedent’s will to any listed beneficiaries as opposed to the Wrongful Death Statute, whereby the monies are awarded to the beneficiaries of the decedent based upon familial relationship.

Free Consultation

If you have any questions about a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Flaherty Fardo offers free consultations. Consults can be done online or by calling our offices at 412.802.6666.

Our representation for all Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival action cases is based on a contingent fee structure. There is absolutely no fee unless we obtain monetary recovery. We advance 100% the costs, including experts, filings, and depositions and are only reimbursed from the client’s share if we are successful.

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