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December 8th, 2012

Wrongful Death Claims in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Cases

When a medical error such as a hospital error results in a patient’s death, the survivors of the deceased may be able to make a claim under Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute,  42 Pa.C.S. § 8301. Wrongful death actions are premised on the death of an individual caused by the negligence of another person or entity, such as a hospital, doctor or treatment facility.

Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Statute in Medical Malpractice Cases – Who Can Bring an Action?

Under section (b) of the wrongful death statute, only certain survivors can bring a wrongful death action against the person or entity liable in a medical malpractice case. The deceased patient’s spouse, children or parents, no matter where they reside, are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. If there is no spouse, then the children will divide any recovery relative to the proportion under intestate laws. In other words, children of the deceased patient will usually split the recovery equally.

Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Statute in Medical Malpractice Cases – What is Recoverable?

Under section (c), the plaintiff in a wrongful death medical malpractice claim can make claims for the following special damages:

  • medical expenses,
  • funeral expenses,
  • estate administration expenses,
  • other damages.

The basis of the damages in a wrongful death action in Pennsylvania is the loss of economic support caused by the death. So, for example, in a medical malpractice case involving the death of a young parent with minor children, there is likely to be a claim for lost economic support.

In addition to a wrongful death action, there may be a viable survival action. A survival action would be permitted in a situation where the patient survives for some period of time after the negligence occurred. In essence, the patient had a right to a negligence action/lawsuit that then passes to the heirs or survivors. A survival action or claim is unavailable in cases where the patient or decedent dies instantly.

However, each case varies, depending on the specific facts and circumstances and therefore, it is important to seek advice of a medical malpractice lawyer before making any decisions or taking any action in a case.

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Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Our medical malpractice attorneys serve victims in the following areas: Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; New Castle County, DE; he County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can obtain special admission in other states on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.