Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyers: Grief Damages Available
December 28, 2015
When a loved one dies – under any circumstances – the grief which follows can be overwhelming. A death due to the negligence of another individual adds an entirely different dimension to the grieving process. It can be hard to move on when a loss was so unexpected and so unfair. The Pennsylvania Superior Court appears to have recognized as much in the 2010 case of Rettger v. UPMC (991 A.2d 915 [Pa. Super. 2010]).
The ruling upheld a $2.5 million verdict in favor of the parents of a 24-year-old single, childless man in a wrongful death action brought against their son’s former physician. Although the victim performed only occasional yard work for the plaintiffs, jurors found that his “service” – as the term appears in the state Wrongful Death Statute – to his parents extended beyond odd jobs. The Superior Court affirmed that the plaintiffs’ grief was a compensable loss. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in February 2011 allowed the decision to stand, denying a petition for review by defendant UPMC Shadyside.
According to Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers, Rettger is a step in the right direction. For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, emotional anguish is a very real, very tangible thing. In many ways, grief can feel more costly than lost wages or earning potential. Grief can be all-consuming, preventing a surviving family member from leading the life they led before.
Some states – such as Illinois – have amended their wrongful death statutes to specifically allow for the award of grief damages, but Pennsylvania is not currently among them. Instead, the state Wrongful Death Statute allows only the recovery of medical, funeral and estate administration expenses, as well as recovery for pecuniary losses to compensate surviving family members “for the monetary value of the services, society and comfort the decedent would have provided” had he or she lived. Although Rettger opens the door, it is now up to the Pennsylvania Legislature to make the availability of grief damages official.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger Pursue Wrongful Death Claims
If you are grieving the untimely loss of a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, contact the experienced Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers at Galfand Berger. We will aggressively pursue justice for you and your family. With offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 800-222-8792 or complete an online questionnaire to schedule your free consultation today.