Filing a Wrongful Death Claim if the Death Occurred Overseas

If a wrongful death occurred overseas, in addition to the grief and mourning families may be consumed with other tasks such as transporting the body home, making funeral arrangements, and dealing with any legalities in the overseas country. Further, families may be confused about whether they can pursue legal action against a negligent party responsible for the death and how.

For the purposes of this article, we will look at Pennsylvania residents who want to file a wrongful death suit overseas, and foreigners visiting the North East Philly area who wish to file wrongful death claim for a death that occurred in the U.S.

Wrongful Death Defined

Before filing a claim, you should talk with a lawyer to decide if you do have an actual wrongful death case. The law defines wrongful death as a death stemming from the intentional or accidental wrongful act of another party, whether an individual, group, business, or other entity.

Sometimes governments can be responsible, though the liability of governments depends on several factors including local statutes and whether the death occurred in the course of responding to an emergency.

Regardless of the defendant, you must prove the party’s negligence and that the negligence caused or contributed to your loved one’s death. Keep in mind though that the law and rules for establishing liability may vary from one country to the next. The above is wrongful death as far as Pennsylvania and most other states in the U.S. are concerned.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

According to Pennsylvania code, a personal representative of the decedent may bring the wrongful death action for the benefit of the:

  • parent/guardian; 
  • child; and/or
  • spouse.


If you are looking to file a wrongful death suit outside the United States, you need to consult with a lawyer who can review the laws of the country where the death occurred.

Some wrongful death cases are successfully filed on behalf of U.S. citizens who are negligently killed in other countries, but the local laws of that country play a large role in who can file and who can benefit from any recovery.

Evaluating Your Case

Filing a wrongful death suit is not easy even if filing the suit in your own country. A lawyer should provide you with an analysis of your wrongful death claim; mainly, whether you have a valid case in the country in which you must file it.

Meanwhile, your attorney should have good case acceptance guidelines. Your lawyer shouldn’t take your case for the sake of taking it. An attorney should only take the case if he or she can devote the necessary time and resources to your case.

If you’re in the North East Philly area, Cordisco & Saile LLC offers free consultations to discuss whether you may have a case and to explore your options for recovering compensation. Call 215-642-2335 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.