Adoptive Parents’ Rights in Wrongful Death Cases

When children are adopted, it transfers custody rights of the child to the adoptive parents. Thus, if an adopted child dies as a result of another individual’s or entity’s negligence, the adoptive parents have the legal right to file a wrongful death suit against the negligent party responsible for the child’s death.

What are parents’ legal options?

Since adoptive parents have all the legal rights and obligations as biological parents under the law, they have the same right to pursue legal action on behalf of their child who is injured, or if the child is killed by a negligent party in Warminster. In such cases they may bring a wrongful death lawsuit, which is similar to personal injury lawsuits in many ways.

Plaintiffs must prove four elements:

  • a duty of care existed between the decedent and defendant;
  • the defendant broke that duty of care;
  • the breach of duty caused the decedent’s death; and
  • the death resulted in substantial damages.


There is a two year statute of limitations on all wrongful death actions in Pennsylvania, and parents should act quickly to get the process started.

Damages Parents May Recover

Damages in a wrongful death claim after a child’s death may differ from the damages collectible in a claim after an adult’s death. That’s because the child likely did not contribute to household earnings and had no dependents. Nevertheless, parents may pursue compensation related to medical and funeral costs and other financial losses.

Further, a parent may pursue noneconomic damages related to the child’s death. This may include loss of the child’s companionship and relationship. Noneconomic damages may also include those related to mental anguish and grief the parents experience as a result of the child’s death.

Discovery & Evidence to Establish Cause of the Child’s Accident & Death

Like other civil actions, wrongful death lawsuits include a discovery phase where the parties exchange evidence relevant to the case. It may involve interrogatories, which are written-out questions about the case that the parties exchange. Production requests require that the other party send over physical evidence that one party believes the other possesses. This can include items like medical records, crash scene evidence and other material relating to the child’s death.

There are many procedural rules that parties must follow even before the discovery process begins. Additionally, if a large company contributed to the child’s death, the parents may have a hard time getting the company to be forthcoming because of concerns about liability in a lawsuit. Having a lawyer on your side can bring knowledge to the process to help you achieve what you want from the legal system.

The law firm Cordisco & Saile LLC helps grieving parents in Warminster exercise their legal rights to file a wrongful death suit against a party responsible for their child’s death, whether the child is adopted or their biological child. Contact our office at 215-642-2335 to set up a consultation to speak with a lawyer about the details of your claim.