What Is The Difference Between Wrongful Death And Survival Action?

Wrongful death cases arise when the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another party cause the death of someone else. These cases are complicated, and they can be fraught with stress and emotion for surviving family members. In these cases, it is important to distinguish between two separate types of actions that may be brought – a wrongful death claim and a survival action.

Are There Differences Between These Two Actions?

Both wrongful death and survival actions are governed by state law, though the statues that guide these two claims are different. However, while the two actions may be different, they are actually very similar. Wrongful death claims generally seek to repay the beneficiaries of the deceased (typically the surviving family members or the deceased’s estate).

A survival actions differ from a wrongful death claim in that the survival action is targeted to repay family members for damages that the deceased would have recovered if they had survived and had been able to file a personal injury lawsuit on their own behalf.

While these two actions are indeed similar, it is important to note that a wrongful death claim will typically be brought by the surviving family members directly. This could include a surviving spouse, children of the deceased, parents of the deceased, or any other person allowed under law that was financially dependent on the deceased. Survival actions are typically brought forth by the executor of the deceased person’s estate.

The damages awarded in these cases may seem similar. Typically, the types of compensation that are awarded in a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • Loss of household services the deceased provided
  • Loss of consortium damages for a spouse or domestic partner
  • Loss of guidance, care, nurturing, and affection provided by the deceased
  • Loss of financial support provided by the deceased
  • Loss of inheritance caused by the wrongful death

A survival action, if successful, will provide compensation for various aspects related to injuries sustained by the deceased up until the time of their death. This could include:

  • Pre-death medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering incurred by the victim
  • Lost wages for the period between sustaining their injuries and death

In general, you will see that survival actions will carry significant benefits if the time between when the person sustained their injuries and when they passed away was fairly significant. For example, if a person dies immediately after sustaining an injury in a car accident, the survival action compensation may not amount to very much (this would not have bearing on the wrongful death compensation). However, if that person survives and is suffering from their injuries for months before they pass away, a survival action will likely bring more compensation, along with the wrongful death compensation for the case.

Is the Statute of Limitations Different?

In general, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. However, survival actions must be filed within two years from one of the following, whichever is later:

  • The date the injury occurred
  • Six months after death

Secure an Attorney

If you are considering filing either a wrongful death claim or a survival action against an alleged negligent party, your first conversation should be with a qualified attorney. A skilled and experienced Santa Ana wrongful death lawyer will understand both of these actions and will be able to guide you towards the path that will secure maximum compensation. The ultimate goal here is for you and your loved ones to have closure for what happened.

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