When Should You File a Wrongful Death Suit


It can be upsetting when your loved one dies. It can be downright devastating when you realize that your loved one’s death could have been prevented with proper medical care (in the healthcare setting) or proper care (in other settings such as the workplace, a commercial property, etc.). If you believe your loved one has died as the result of the actions or omissions of their health care providers or other individuals, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read on to understand what constitutes a wrongful death suit and the timing for when you should file a wrongful death suit.

Whether You Have a Wrongful Death Claim

It may seem obvious, but the first question you should ask is whether you even have a case. If you believe that your loved one died as the result of the actions or omissions of others, you may have a wrongful death suit. When you meet with an attorney, you must provide as much information as you can about the circumstances before, during, and after your loved one died. That will enable your wrongful death lawyer to evaluate the viability of the claim – that is, whether the claim is likely to be successful in court — and your wrongful death damages.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim

If the decedent died without a will, usually a spouse or other family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf after being appointed as the administrator (if male) or administratrix (if female) of the estate. If there are no surviving family members, the court may appoint a personal representative called an administrator.

If the decedent died with a will, the person appointed in the will serves as the executor (if male) or executrix (if female) and this person may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

How Long Do You Have to File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pennsylvania

Under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, you have two years after the official death date to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This restriction is typically referred to as the wrongful death statute or the statute of limitations.  

Two years may seem like a long time, but your wrongful death attorneys will need ample time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. They will need to order records such as medical records or employment records. They will need to interview various individuals who were involved in or had substantial knowledge about the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s death. They will need to fully understand whether someone or multiple people are at fault for your loved one’s death. Thus, in order to comply with the wrongful death statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one dies.

An important exception to the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute is in cases of “fraudulent concealment.” This part of the statute provides that if a plaintiff is persuaded or lulled by the defendant medical care providers that the cause of their loved one’s death was not actionable in court because they did nothing wrong and/or concealed relevant facts from the plaintiff, the plaintiff doesn’t have only two years from the date of death. The plaintiff has two years from the time they discovered (or should have discovered) that the defendant’s actions or omissions could likely have caused their loved one’s death.

Wrongful death attorneys understand the immense grief associated with wrongful death lawsuits, and will do everything in their power to work with you to ease your burdens during the stressful time after your loved one’s death.

If you believe your loved one has died as the direct result of someone else’s actions or omissions, you may have a viable wrongful death lawsuit. Contact VSCP LAW at www.vscplaw.com for a thorough evaluation of your claim.

VSCP The Important Roles of Personal Injury Attorneys

A common error people make after they’ve been injured as the result of someone e...

The Top 4 Reasons You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you believe you have been injured because of what a healthcare professional h...

Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyers

A birth injury can occur before, during, and/or immediately after childbirth. A...