When someone dies as a result of another’s negligence, two legal actions can be taken to recover damages for the death: a survival action and a wrongful death claim. Read on to learn more about these lawsuits and the wrongs they seek to compensate for.
A survival action is a lawsuit filed to recover damages for injuries the deceased suffered prior to his death. For example, if a person was in a car accident and survived for several days before dying, his executor can file a survival action for the deceased’s medical expenses, lost wages prior to his death, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and other costs. Survival actions are not always possible; if a person dies instantly and with no suffering, there is no basis for a survival action, except to recover funeral expenses. Survival actions cannot recover damages for projected future medical expenses or lost wages that the deceased would have incurred if he had lived.
Wrongful Death Claims
On the other hand, a wrongful death claim is filed to recover damages for losses experienced by the close family of the deceased, i.e. parents, spouse, and children. Unlike a survival action, wrongful death suits do not consider the experiences of the deceased prior to his death; rather, these claims seek to itemize the effects of that person’s death on those around him. For example, a family may experience loss of income and other benefits because of a parent’s death, as well as loss of companionship and guidance. For these costs, the surviving family members can receive financial damages. Though a wrongful death claim and a survival action may seem like they are part of one effort to gain full compensation for a death, they are two entirely separate legal actions.
After the death of a loved one, you may be able to recover financial damages for your loss and the costs you have sustained. To discuss filing a survival action or wrongful death claim, call (301) 840-0404 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Sussman & Simcox.