Marriage is a deeply personal choice. Many couples feel it is an outdated institution that is of no benefit to them. Yet, despite so many people sharing this way of thinking and being happy to live together without tying the knot, the law has not fully caught up.
One area where the law still offers significant benefits to married couples is if one person dies due to a third party’s negligence or ill intentions. If you were married to the person who died, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you were an unmarried partner, it is more complicated.
How does Pennsylvania define a beneficiary in a wrongful death case?
Pennslyvania law sets out who can file a claim for wrongful death. It calls them beneficiaries, and they are:
- A spouse of the deceased
- A child of the deceased
- A parent of the deceased
The executor of the estate can also file on behalf of the estate, yet, as an unmarried partner, this still does not give you a legal right to any funds obtained.
If you had children together, ensuring someone files a wrongful death claim will at least ensure your children receive money. As their parent and guardian, you may be able to seek access to this to fund the cost of raising them. Family members who are entitled to claim can, of course, pass some or all of any monies claimed to you, but they are under no obligation.
A wrongful death claim can never make up for the loss of someone you love. It cannot account for the fact that you have to live the rest of your life without their company. Yet, finding a way to receive some of the compensation can at least reduce the economic burden of your loss.