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Wrongful Death in Erie, PA: Elderkin's Personal Injury Lawyers 

The sudden death of a loved one is devastating, and when that death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person, you need a place to turn for counsel and support. The Elderkin Law Firm in Erie, PA has the knowledge, resources and experience to obtain the compensation you need to move forward after a tragedy.  If your loved one died because of an accident caused by negligence, you need the expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer. We know that the death of a loved one is a life-changing experience for the surviving family members, and we make sure that this is kept in mind when preparing and presenting your claim.  Nothing can diminish the crushing blow of the death of a loved one, but you are entitled to justice and compensation for your trauma. Our lawyers are sensitive to the personal needs of our clients during this troubling time, and our goal is to help you through the legal process as easily as possible.

What is a wrongful death claim?  

A wrongful death claim is just that -- a claim brought against someone who has caused another person’s death through his or her wrongful conduct.  Since the person who has died is no longer available to bring the claim on his or her own behalf, family members (or other designated representatives) must bring it for them.  And the claims that may be brought include two broad categories: (1) claims to compensate the deceased person for his or her own injuries occurring prior to death; and (2) claims to compensate the surviving family members for their own monetary losses resulting from he death of their loved one.  

Calculating the economic cost of a death requires seasoned experts to determine the value of the deceased’s contribution to the family finances had he or she lived. The value of the non-economic contribution of the victim, including emotional support of the surviving spouse and children, household duties, and more, must also be determined.

Our attorneys have the experience and resources to make sure that you receive full compensation if you experience the loss of a loved one through the fault of another person.

Our lawyers can help Northwestern Pennsylvania families whose loved ones suffered fatal accidents in:

The wrongful death of a loved one is a devastating matter. Our personal injury lawyers handle all of the details of a wrongful death action so you can focus on taking care of your family. We make sure you are connected with the resources and services you need. We want to hear your case, we want to help you get the results that you deserve. Call our Erie, PA offices at 814-456-4000, send us an email at, or fill out one of the contact forms.  


If I’m under 18, can I file for a wrongful death claim?

Yes, but you must do it through a parent or other guardian. Until you reach the age of eighteen, you are considered a minor under Pennsylvania law and are unable to commence legal proceedings on your own behalf. In most cases where a minor is a party, a parent, who is considered a natural guardian for the minor, will assert any claims on behalf of the minor. Where there is not a natural guardian to act, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem ("for the suit"), who will act for the interests of the minor.

What does a wrongful death lawsuit involve?

In Pennsylvania there are two possible kinds of claims by which relatives, heirs, and next of kin can recover money damages as a result of the death of a loved one. These are: (1) a wrongful death claim, and (2) a survival action. Although they arise out of a common factual background, and may even be presented together if a trial occurs, they really are separate claims.


A wrongful death claim is brought on behalf of the dependent spouse, children or parents of the deceased to compensate them for the moneys they have lost because the deceased is no longer able to earn a living.  A survival claim, on the other hand, allows a recovery for the losses sustained by the deceased before he or she died, including compensation for pain and suffering prior to death and loss of earning power from the date of injury until death. Claims for medical, funeral and other expenses may also be made in one or both of the claims. The executor of the estate of the deceased is authorized to bring both types of claims on behalf of those entitled to receive the damages available in each.

Are there different considerations in cases involving the death of a child?

Although there is a different dynamic in a case involving the death of a child, the same general principles apply. The main difference is that the economic implications of the loss of a child are likely much more speculative, since the child may not have established a specific earnings history or vocational trajectory.

Can I bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never held a job, for example, a stay-at-home mom?

Yes. Wrongful death and survival claims encompass all kinds of losses, including the loss of the companionship and society of the deceaaed, which is a very real and palpable loss to the survivors. Also, even though the deceased might not have been bringing home a paycheck, he or she may nevertheless have been a substantial contributor to the economy of the household. In the case of the death of a homemaker, for example, the economic value of the cooking, cleaning and other services that were provided to the household are every bit as compensable as the services of a wage earner would be. An economist can help in such cases by providing expert testimony as to the economic value of a homemaker's services, and it’s often times quite significant.

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