Statute of Limitations for Pennsylvania Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

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Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit to recover damages resulting from death.

A death caused by the negligence of another can give rise to two different types of lawsuits under Pennsylvania law – a wrongful death action and a survival action.  42 Pa.C.S. §§8301- §8302.

The survival action is a legal claim to recover damages the deceased suffered during his or her lifetime, including the loss of past or future earnings, and pain and suffering from the date of injury through the time of death.  The two-year time limit for filing a survival action lawsuit, i.e., statute of limitations, starts at the time of the individual’s death.  Dubose v. Quinlan, 173 A.3d 634, 648 (Pa. 2017); 40 P.S. §1303.513(d).

While a survival action is a legal claim that protects the rights owned by an individual before their death, a wrongful death action is the sole method by which the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased, also known as the wrongful death beneficiaries, may recover damages for the loss of physical, emotional and financial support they received from the person who died.

Like a lawsuit that makes a claim under the survival action, the wrongful death beneficiaries are subject to a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.  The two-year period for filing a lawsuit for wrongful death begins on the date of death.

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