Tragedy can strike at unexpected moments, and leave Pennsylvania families reeling in the wake of devastating and life-altering accidents. When a family loses a loved one, the survivors' grief may be all that they can bear as they plan funeral arrangements for their deceased relative. Suing the party responsible for their loss may not initially be a priority for them.
However, as they come to terms with their loss, the victim's close relatives may wish to seek legal recourse against the individual or individuals whose actions led to their loved one's death. Wrongful death claims serve this purpose, and can compensate a victim's family for the financial burden imposed upon the individuals who must find ways to go on living their lives without the love and support of the victim.
Generally, wrongful death claims must be initiated by the personal representative of the victim. Under Pennsylvania law, a personal representative is someone who is responsible for managing the deceased victim's estate and handling the legal and administrative matters that must be dealt with upon his or her passing.
While, in some cases, a personal representative may be named in a decedent's testamentary documents, in other cases a person may die without naming such a responsible party. Readers who have questions about who may serve as a victim's personal representative are asked to speak with attorneys in their communities to ensure that the decedents' rights are being appropriately handled.
There is a provision under Pennsylvania law, though, that may allow family members of a victim to sue if the personal representative fails to do so. If, after six months since the victim's passing, the personal representative has not begun a wrongful death lawsuit, certain family members of the victim may pursue the claim on their own. Those who believe that they have rights to sue under wrongful death theories of law should consider discussing their rights and options with personal injury attorneys before beginning their lawsuits.