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Wrongful Death and Survival Actions: How They Differ

While wrongful death claims can often spawn survival action lawsuits, the two are not the same thing. Understanding the difference can help you figure out if you have avenues for pursuing compensation besides filing a wrongful death claim.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

When someone’s negligence causes an injury, you can hire a personal injury attorney to pursue a personal injury case. However, when that negligence leads to a death, you can hire a lawyer to file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims involve the estate of the decedent seeking action against a person or entity for causing or contributing to a preventable death. When someone dies, he or she may leave behind a family who relied on him or her for financial and emotional support. Damages from these claims can cover funeral costs, medical bills, debts, and many other expenses.

Understanding Survival Actions

A survival action is akin to filing a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. If that person lived and only suffered an injury, he or she would have had the right to press charges against the negligent party. Since that individual is not alive to press charges, a beneficiary can do so instead. Survival actions allow you to seek damages for medical bills and lost wages for the person that would have accrued up to the moment of his or her death. You can also sue for pain and suffering with a survival action.

Understanding How They Work Together

Wrongful death claims help provide the estate and beneficiaries with something to help ease the burden of their loved one no longer being there to provide for them. Survival actions help provide the estate and beneficiaries with funds for the injury, pain, and suffering the decedent experienced. Pursuing both types of claims can help offset some of the things each type of action does not provide.

A wrongful death attorney can help you figure out what types of claims will work best for your specific situation. Knowing which claim to pursue and how to pursue each one is important. As they represent separate lawsuits, it is important to handle them with care. No matter what, it can help you to know you have options.