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What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

Posted on October 19, 2020 in Wrongful Death

No one should ever have to live through the wrongful death of a loved one. Wrongful death is an egregious tort in which one person’s negligence gives someone else a fatal injury. If someone in your family recently passed away in an unexpected accident, civil laws in California may enable you to file two different types of lawsuits: a wrongful death claim and a survival action. A wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, CA can help you with both types of claims.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

When someone breaches a duty of care, acts recklessly or intentionally tries to injure someone and this results in wrongful death, the deceased victim’s (decedent’s) family can file a civil claim in California. The most common type of claim is a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of civil action asserts that a negligent or criminal party is liable for the death of another party, and therefore owes survivors financial compensation for related losses. A wrongful death claim aims to hold a party legally responsible for the damages suffered due to a victim’s death. It specifically seeks compensation to give to surviving loved ones.

  • Funeral and burial costs (within reason)
  • The family’s medical expenses for the decedent’s fatal injury
  • Lost income, benefits and inheritance
  • Lost financial support
  • Lost household services
  • Lost love, companionship and support from the decedent
  • Legal and out-of-pocket costs
  • The family’s grief and mental anguish
  • Punitive damages

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by a family for the benefit of surviving loved ones. A settlement or judgment award received through a wrongful death lawsuit will be distributed among surviving family members according to state law. A wrongful death claim serves to make a family whole again through financial compensation for an unexpected loss. While no amount of money can make up for a preventable death, California’s wrongful death laws aim to give a family the money they need to move forward.

What Is a Survival Action?

A survival action in California is similar to a wrongful death claim in that both seek compensation for an avoidable death from the negligent or at-fault party. A survival action, however, aims to hold the defendant liable for the damages the deceased person likely would have recovered had he or she survived the injury. Rather than claiming the losses of surviving family members, a survival action makes a claim for the losses of the decedent.

  • Medical expenses that went to the decedent or estate
  • Property damages incurred
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional injuries
  • Mental anguish
  • Fear of imminent death

Compensation obtained during a survival action in California will be sent to the deceased person’s estate rather than being distributed directly to surviving family members. If the estate has any outstanding debts, the settlement will pay them off first. Then, any remaining amount will go to beneficiaries of the estate.

What Type of Claim Do You Have?

The type of case you have after a death in the family will depend on the circumstances of the accident, as well as the person who is seeking benefits. If you are a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, you will most likely bring a survival action on behalf of the decedent. If you are a spouse or child of the decedent, however, a wrongful death claim would be more appropriate. Many families have the right to file both types of claims simultaneously in California to seek full compensation for both the family and the deceased victim. A lawyer could help you with all of the paperwork necessary for a wrongful death case or survival action in LA.

Contact an Attorney Near You

Both types of cases – a wrongful death claim and a survival action – have benefits for a family that is grieving the loss of a loved one. Discuss which type of claim is right for you with an attorney in California. Your family may be eligible for recovery through both types of lawsuits. A lawyer can help you file each type before the deadline in California, then negotiate for maximum compensation for the devastating loss in your family. Working with a wrongful death attorney could allow you to achieve the best possible results for both types of cases.