Understanding Survival Actions: Your Legal Rights After a Loved One’s Death

Understanding Survival Actions: Your Legal Rights After a Loved One’s Death

Understanding Survival Actions: Your Legal Rights After a Loved One’s Death

Introduction

The loss of a loved one is an emotionally devastating experience, and the grief can be compounded when their death results from someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. In such cases, surviving family members may have legal recourse through a legal mechanism known as a survival action. This comprehensive guide aims to provide a detailed understanding of survival actions, including what they are, how they differ from wrongful death claims, and the legal rights and options available to surviving family members.

I. What Are Survival Actions?

A survival action is a legal claim brought on behalf of a deceased person’s estate to seek compensation for damages they suffered as a result of their injuries before their death. Unlike wrongful death claims, which focus on the losses suffered by surviving family members, survival actions center on the harm experienced by the deceased person. Here are some key elements of survival actions:

1. Compensation for the Deceased’s Damages

The primary purpose of a survival action is to seek compensation for the damages, injuries, and losses that the deceased person experienced between the time of their injury and their death. These damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic losses.

2. Continuation of the Deceased Person’s Legal Claims

In a survival action, the deceased person’s legal claims are continued on their behalf by the personal representative or executor of their estate. This allows for the pursuit of claims that the deceased person may have initiated or could have pursued had they survived.

3. Separate from Wrongful Death Claims

Survival actions are distinct from wrongful death claims, which are brought by surviving family members to seek compensation for their own losses, such as loss of companionship, financial support, and emotional suffering. Survival actions focus solely on the damages suffered by the deceased person.

II. Common Situations for Survival Actions

Survival actions can arise from various situations, including:

1. Personal Injury Accidents

When a person sustains injuries in an accident, such as a car crash, slip and fall, or medical malpractice, and those injuries contribute to their death, a survival action may be pursued to seek compensation for the pain and suffering experienced during the period between the injury and death.

2. Medical Malpractice

In cases of medical malpractice resulting in a patient’s death, a survival action may be brought to recover damages for the harm caused by the medical error before the patient’s passing.

3. Workplace Accidents

If a worker is injured on the job and later succumbs to those injuries, a survival action may be pursued to address the losses and suffering experienced by the deceased worker prior to their death.

4. Product Liability

In cases where a defective product causes injuries that ultimately lead to the victim’s death, a survival action can seek compensation for the pain and suffering endured due to the product defect.

III. Initiating a Survival Action

To initiate a survival action, specific steps must be taken:

1. Appointing a Personal Representative

A personal representative or executor of the deceased person’s estate must be appointed. This individual is responsible for bringing the survival action on behalf of the estate.

2. Gathering Evidence

Evidence related to the deceased person’s injuries, medical treatment, pain and suffering, and financial losses must be collected and documented.

3. Filing the Lawsuit

The personal representative files a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties, alleging negligence, wrongful actions, or other legal grounds for the survival action.

4. Pursuing the Legal Claim

The lawsuit proceeds similarly to other personal injury cases, with both parties presenting evidence, engaging in discovery, and potentially negotiating a settlement or going to trial.

IV. Compensation in Survival Actions

Compensation sought in a survival action can include various elements, such as:

1. Medical Expenses

Reimbursement for medical bills and expenses related to the deceased person’s injuries and treatment.

2. Pain and Suffering

Compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person between the time of their injury and death.

3. Lost Wages

Recovery for the income the deceased person would have earned had they survived their injuries.

4. Property Damage

Compensation for any property damage resulting from the accident or incident leading to the injuries.

5. Funeral and Burial Expenses

Coverage for funeral and burial expenses associated with the deceased person’s passing.

6. Other Economic Losses

Reimbursement for any additional economic losses suffered by the deceased person before their death.

V. Statutes of Limitations for Survival Actions

It’s essential to be aware of the statutes of limitations that apply to survival actions. These laws dictate the timeframes within which a survival action must be filed. Statutes of limitations vary by jurisdiction and may depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Failing to initiate a survival action within the applicable statute of limitations can result in the claim being barred.

VI. Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Claims

Survival actions and wrongful death claims serve distinct purposes and address different aspects of a fatal accident or incident:

1. Survival Actions

Focus on the damages suffered by the deceased person before their death.
Seek compensation for the pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses experienced by the deceased.
Brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate by a personal representative or executor.
Damages recovered in a survival action become part of the deceased person’s estate and may be distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries.

2. Wrongful Death Claims

Focus on the losses suffered by surviving family members, such as loss of companionship, financial support, and emotional suffering.
Brought by surviving family members, such as spouses, children, or parents.
Compensate surviving family members directly for their losses.
Damages recovered in a wrongful death claim are typically distributed among the surviving family members.

VII. Conclusion

Survival actions are a vital legal mechanism that allows for the pursuit of compensation on behalf of a deceased person’s estate for the injuries and losses they suffered before their death. These actions can provide financial support for the deceased person’s estate and, by extension, their heirs or beneficiaries.

Navigating the complexities of survival actions can be challenging during an emotionally taxing time. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death law to guide you through the legal process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. Understanding the legal options available after the loss of a loved one can provide some measure of financial relief and justice for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased person.

Contact Us for a Consultation

Amir Law Group P.C. is a law firm with winning results and the track record to prove it. Whether it is a employment issue, a personal injury, or estate planning, our attorneys have the talent and knowledge to thoroughly represent you.
Our attorneys will guide you through the process every step of the way.

We are not afraid to litigate and take cases to trial, and have trial experience. We are relentless and we win. Clients also have first-hand access to our attorneys who are available day or night and will even provide you with their cell phone numbers. Case updates come straight from your attorney rather than paralegals or staff members.

Share Now:

Recent Posts