Nursing home resident injuries due to abuse, neglect or accidents are very common, and in some situations, the injuries lead to death. Surviving family members are often misinformed about their legal rights to pursue justice on behalf of their deceased loved ones.
At the outset, it is important to note that in nursing home injury cases which result in death, surviving family members may be able to bring two types of legal claims: a wrongful death action and a survival action.
A wrongful death action is based on losses caused by the death of the loved one. This type of claim belongs solely to the surviving family members. On the other hand, a survival action is based on injury to the loved one, and survives the death of the loved one, after which time, it passes to the estate. Therefore, a survival action is like a personal injury action which belonged to the deceased individual, but due to the death, passed on to the survivors.
This article will discuss Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8301, in the context of nursing home accident injury lawsuits.
What is a wrongful death action?
The wrongful death statute defines a death action as an action brought to “recover damages for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.” In a nursing home injury case which results in the resident’s death, the cause of action will be a wrongful death or death action.
Who may bring a wrongful death action?
Only certain surviving family members are entitled to bring wrongful death actions:
- children, or
- parents of the deceased.
The survivors are not required to reside in Pennsylvania. In addition, there is an exception under the law which allows personal representatives to make claims for economic losses (medical bills, funeral expenses, etc.), if there are no surviving family members.
In a nursing home injury case involving an elderly resident, the surviving family members are usually the resident’s spouse or children.
What is the financial compensation in a wrongful death action?
Surviving family members may be able to recover any hospital, medical, funeral, burial, and estate administration expenses. In addition, surviving family members can recover:
- loss of financial contributions to the household,
- the value of the services, society, and comfort the deceased individual would have provided, and
- if the deceased individual was a parent, the surviving children may recover for the loss of the parent’s guidance, tutelage, and moral upbringing.
In nursing home injury cases, the most common types of claims for financial compensation are based on actual economic expenses such as medical bills and funeral expenses as well as the value of any society and comfort the deceased resident would have provided to the surviving family members.
Lawyers for a Wrongful Death Nursing Home Injury Case in Pennsylvania
Our lawyers handle nursing home injury and wrongful death cases throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Please call our office for a free consultation. (215) 985-0777
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