To first understand who can benefit from filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to know what actually constitutes a wrongful death. The legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania considers a wrongful death as the premature death of an individual caused by the wrongful or neglectful act of another. Perhaps a good example of this would be a drunk driver causing an accident which results in the death of another motorist. Another example could be a charter fishing boat captain who failed to properly maintain lifesaving equipment which later resulted in the drowning of a boat passenger.
As a general rule, the right to bring an action for a wrongful death in Pennsylvania is extended only for the benefit of the decedent's spouse, children or their parents. This right of action is preserved by any of the above-mentioned surviving family members regardless of whether they reside in Pennsylvania.