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Pennsylvania family sues for wrongful death, survival action

Many Pennsylvania residents do everything in their power to provide and make life better for their loved ones. From working hard to support the family, to providing love and emotional support when times are tough, individuals play many different roles in supporting family and friends.

When a fatal accident occurs that tragically takes the life of a loved one, individuals can find themselves in a new role: obtaining legal accountability for the loss of their loved one. However, this accountability can take different forms, as separate legal claims may be available depending on the circumstances of the case.

Typically, when a loved one dies, the family members may have a cause of action for wrongful death. The wrongful death claim is successful when it can be shown that the death was caused by someone else's negligence and the surviving family members suffer monetary injury as a result of the death. The damages in these cases consist primarily of the financial injury that is caused by the loss of the loved one, such as the loss of income and support.

Another type of claim may be available based on the injury to the deceased person. This claim is called a survival action, because the claim survives the person who died. The survival action is successful when it can be shown that the deceased person had a degree of consciousness, severity of pain and apprehension of impending death.

Accordingly, both a wrongful death and survival action may be brought together in certain circumstances. For example, a judge recently denied a motion to transfer a case from Philadelphia County to Chester County. The case involves a person who was served alcoholic beverages by a VFW post, and who proceeded to drive her car and kill a pedestrian. The pedestrian allegedly had multiple traumatic injuries causing her pain and suffering before she passed away. Accordingly, her parents brought a multiple-count lawsuit against multiple defendants, which included claims for wrongful death and survival.

It remains to be seen how the case will be resolved. However, the case illustrates how multiple claims may be available when a loved one has died as a result of someone else's negligence.

Source: Penn Record, "Wrongful death lawsuit to stay in Philadelphia court, judge says," Nicholas Malfitano, July 26, 2016

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