Personal Injury 101: Survival & Wrongful Death Claims

The untimely and tragic loss of a family member is heartbreaking. The idea of having to go through legal proceedings following a death only makes things more difficult. Many people know what a wrongful death claim is, but in today's Personal Injury 101 we're discussing another option, survival action.

Survival and wrongful death actions are both statutory, meaning they are governed by state law. Each state is different when it comes to specific wrongful death and survivor laws. Depending upon the state you live in, you can take both wrongful death and survivor actions.

First, wrongful death laws give the estate the ability to collect damages for any beneficiaries (someone who suffered financially as a result of the death) of the deceased.  

Survival laws allow the estate to seek compensation for things such as pain and suffering or lost wages, all things the decedent could have recovered if he or she had not died.

Survival action is based upon the length of time the victim (deceased) was injured before time of death. For example, if a man was killed in a work accident when he fell into a piece of machinery the family would more than likely not be able to claim pain and suffering because the death was basically instant. If on the other hand, a worker was injured because of negligence and in a coma for a month before dying, the family could seek damages for pain and suffering as well as lost earnings.

Another major difference is the damages recovered in a survival action go to the Estate, not directly to family members. The money/compensation is then divided according to the decedent's will (or if there isn't one, pursuant to state law).  

If you, or someone you know may have a wrongful death or survivor claim contact Parry & Pfau today.  We'd be happy to answer any legal questions or concerns you may have.