Survival Action Attorney Serving All of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, when a person dies in an accident or due to the conduct of another, there are two types of claims that may be brought: A wrongful death claim and a survival action.
These two claims are different in several critical respects.
Pennsylvania law provides that the right to compensation for injuries that a person suffered in life will “survive” that person’s death, becoming part of the deceased person’s estate.
The law states: “All causes of action or proceedings, real or personal, shall survive the death of the plaintiff or the defendant, or the death of one or more joint plaintiffs or defendants.” (42 Pa.C.S. § 8302).
A Pennsylvania survival action permits the representative of the deceased person’s estate to make a claim for compensation for injuries suffered by the deceased during the period of time after the accident and before his or her death. In fact, a survival action is any type of legal claim that the deceased person could have made during his or her lifetime, but is made by a representative instead.
When available, a survival action can be asserted in the same proceeding as a wrongful death claim, which is a legal strategy that often allows for greater financial recovery by the deceased person’s relatives.
If you’d like to speak with a survival action attorney about your survival action and/or wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Attorney John Mattiacci of Mattiacci Law today.
What Damages Are Recoverable In A Pennsylvania Survival Action?
Under Pennsylvania’s survival action statute, the representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a claim for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person before that person died. The representative can also recover for loss of the deceased person’s earnings from the date of injury until death.
The decision to file a survival action is a significant consideration in cases where serious injuries do not lead immediately to death. Say, for example, a motor vehicle accident or burn injuries that do not lead to death until several weeks have passed after these incidents.
Who Can File a Pennsylvania Survival Action?
Unlike a wrongful death claim, which can be filed by the deceased person’s dependents (usually the spouse, children, or parents), a survival action must be filed by the representative of the deceased person’s estate for eventual distribution to the deceased person’s beneficiaries. If the deceased person left behind a lawful will, then the representative named in that will is the person entitled to file a survival action.
In many cases, but not always, the person entitled to file both the wrongful death claim and the survival action will be the same individual. However, if the deceased person left behind a lawful will, then the representative of his or her estate will be the person named in that will.
If the deceased person did not leave behind a will, then the person entitled to bring a survival action will be selected by a court in accordance with Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws.
Statute of Limitations Applicable to Pennsylvania Survival Actions
Under Pennsylvania law, “An action to recover damages for injuries to the person or for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another” must be commenced within two years. (42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2)).
For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations begins from the date of death. For a survival action, the statute of limitations begins from the date of the injuries suffered by the deceased person.
In the case of lingering injuries that do not lead immediately to death, these two dates may be separated by days, weeks, or even years. Experienced legal counsel will monitor these key dates to ensure that the right to receive full financial compensation due to the loss of a loved one is not lost through inattention to the statute of limitations periods for each type of claim.
Other Important Differences Between a Pennsylvania Survival Action and a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Claim
There are two other key distinctions between a Pennsylvania survival action and a Pennsylvania wrongful death claim: The tax treatment of financial compensation received in court, and the availability of these funds to satisfy the claims of the deceased person’s creditors.
In a survival action, any money recovered is subject to inheritance taxes. Also, money recovered in a survival action is available to satisfy debts and other legal obligations of the deceased.
In wrongful death cases, however, estate taxes are not levied against recoveries, nor can they be offset by the deceased person’s debts. This is because Pennsylvania law treats financial recoveries from survival actions as property of the deceased person’s estate, while recoveries in wrongful death claims legally belong to the deceased person’s dependents as compensation for their losses.
Experienced Pennsylvania Wrongful Death And Survival Action Attorneys
At Mattiacci Law, we represent families who have lost a loved one in an accident and fight to bring those responsible to justice. We are compassionate toward our clients and stop at nothing to pursue those who are at fault.
We have obtained multi-million dollar recoveries in many of our practice areas of law, but especially wrongful death and survival action cases.
If you have lost a family member or loved one in an accident, contact Philadelphia’s John Mattiacci today. John and the firm will make every effort to counsel you and your family through the tragedy, and aggressively pursue the ones responsible.