This past September, a 26-year-old man died of a drug overdose. His family filed a wrongful death suit against the archdiocese, a monsignor and the priest who abused the young man. The victim’s family claims the church officials knew of multiple pedophile complaints against the priest, ignored them and assigned him to a new parish in Philadelphia. It was there that the priest sexually abused the boy for numerous years, beginning when he was 11 years old, in 1998. Did the priest cause this young man’s death?
The essence of a wrongful death action
A wrongful death suit can be filed when someone injures and causes the death of another, thereby also injuring people who depended on the decedent for financial and emotional support. The initial right for wrongful death actions was established by a statute in 1851 stating that a cause of action for death caused by violence could be filed if the decedent did not file an action while living.
Who can file in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania law, a wrongful death action may be brought by the decedent’s spouse, children or parents or by the personal representative. Other relatives — siblings, nieces and nephews — cannot bring a suit.
Wrongful death damages
The family members filing a wrongful death suit may be able to recover medical, nursing and funeral expenses. In addition, survivors may be able to collect the present value of services that would have been provided by the decedent had the person survived. The law also provides that the subsequent remarriage of the surviving spouse does not affect the calculation of damages.
A Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death. If you think you may have a wrongful death claim, do not waste any time. Contact experienced Wilkes-Barre wrongful death attorneys for a free and confidential consultation.