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Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawsuits – Wrongful Death & Survival Actions
Last updated: April 28, 2022
In Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases, family members who’ve lost a loved one may be able to file a wrongful death action and a survival action. These two actions differ in three main ways:
- who the action belongs to,
- what damages are recoverable, and
- the time deadline (statute of limitations) to file a lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Action
|Who does the lawsuit belong to?||Surviving spouses, children, dependent parents||The deceased patient (at death, the action transfers to the estate)|
|What damages are recoverable?||Damages caused by the loss of the loved one (funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of services, etc.)||Pain and suffering, any and all financial losses from the injury|
|What is the time deadline to file?||2 years from date of death||2 years from date of injury (except in cases where the patient died)|
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case Study: Our law firm obtained a $7 million verdict in a medical malpractice case against a Pennsylvania hospital for the death of a 50 year old woman. Emergency room doctors failed to diagnose pulmonary embolism, and as a result, the patient died.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our team handles complex medical malpractice lawsuits including wrongful death and survival cases across Pennsylvania. We’re rated by U.S. News & World Report in the area of medical malpractice law and offer a FREE consultation. (610) 825-0500
Wrongful Death & Survival Actions – Who is the Plaintiff?
A wrongful death action belongs to family members of the deceased and is a cause of action against a negligent party for causing the death of the loved one. Essentially, the negligent conduct caused an injury or loss to the surviving family members.
Example: A father dies after a cancer misdiagnosis. Due to the misdiagnosis, the father dies 1 year later. The surviving spouse and children, if any, are the plaintiffs in a wrongful death action against the medical provider or doctor who misdiagnosed the father.
On the other hand, a survival action belongs to the person before they died and is based on the negligent conduct that caused an injury to the deceased before death occurred. In other words, the individual would have had their own cause of action against the negligent party prior to their death. Upon death, that cause of action is essentially transferred to the estate.
Using the same example above, the father would have had his own cause of action against his doctor for the misdiagnosis. When he died, that cause of action transferred to his estate, which would be the plaintiff in a survival action against the doctor.
Wrongful Death & Survival Actions – What Damages are Recoverable?
Because the nature of the actions differ, damages or compensation recoverable in wrongful death or survival actions also differ.
Under Pennsylvania law, plaintiffs in a wrongful death action can recover specific types of damages, which include medical bills, funeral expenses, and estate administration costs. See 42 Pa. C.S. § 8301, which is provided below (current as of October 16, 2019).
In addition to these strictly economic losses laid out by statute, plaintiffs in wrongful death actions can also recover the loss of contribution their deceased loved one would have made to the household/family including food, clothing, housing, medical costs, education, etc.
In a survival action, the estate can recover for any losses experienced by the deceased which occurred between the negligent conduct and death. This includes pain and suffering experienced by their loved one, as well as medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Time to File
In medical malpractice cases, the time limit or statute of limitations will depend on the facts of the case. In a medical malpractice case resulting in death, the applicable statute of limitations is usually the date of death for both a wrongful death action and a survival action. In medical malpractice cases where the patient survives, the patient has two years from date the negligent incident occurred, i.e., the date of the misdiagnosis, to file their medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Pennsylvania – Phila., Delaware & Montgomery Counties
If your loved one died due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, contact our law firm immediately. We focus on complex medical malpractice cases and have successfully represented patients against major hospitals and medical providers in Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Delaware County and Montgomery County.
Call (610) 825-0500 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. All of our injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means if we don’t obtain compensation on your behalf, you don’t have to pay us any legal fees.
42 Pa. C.S. § 8301 Death action. (Current as of April 28, 2022)
(a) General rule.–An action may be brought, under procedures prescribed by general rules, to recover damages for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another if no recovery for the same damages claimed in the wrongful death action was obtained by the injured individual during his lifetime and any prior actions for the same injuries are consolidated with the wrongful death claim so as to avoid a duplicate recovery.
(b) Beneficiaries.–Except as provided in subsection (d), the right of action created by this section shall exist only for the benefit of the spouse, children or parents of the deceased, whether or not citizens or residents of this Commonwealth or elsewhere. The damages recovered shall be distributed to the beneficiaries in the proportion they would take the personal estate of the decedent in the case of intestacy and without liability to creditors of the deceased person under the statutes of this Commonwealth.
(c) Special damages.–In an action brought under subsection (a), the plaintiff shall be entitled to recover, in addition to other damages, damages for reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, funeral expenses and expenses of administration necessitated by reason of injuries causing death.
(d) Action by personal representative.–If no person is eligible to recover damages under subsection (b), the personal representative of the deceased may bring an action to recover damages for reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, funeral expenses and expenses of administration necessitated by reason of injuries causing death.
We Accept Medical Malpractice Cases Against Hospitals in the Philadelphia Area
Cases Also Accepted Across Pennsylvania
Chestnut Hill Hospital
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Roxborough Memorial Hospital
Temple University Hospital
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Upland)
Delaware County Memorial Hospital (Drexel Hill, Upper Darby)
Springfield Hospital (Springfield)
Taylor Hospital (Ridley)
Abington Hospital (Abington, Lansdale)
Bryn Mawr Hospital (Bryn Mawr)
Einstein Medical (East Norriton, Elkins Park)
Holy Redeemer Hospital (Meadowbrook)
Lankenau Hospital (Wynnewood)
Suburban Community Hospital (Norristown)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Phila., West Chester, East Norriton, Meadowbrook, Doylestown, Langhorne, Sellersville, etc.)
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Shriner's Hospitals for Children
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