Survival Action vs. Wrongful Death: What’s the Difference?

When you lose your loved one because of another party’s negligence, you have the legal right to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. The repercussions of losing a loved one are far-reaching and transcend the emotional. Losing a loved one sometimes means losing an income source and an integral part of your livelihood.

Wrongful death and survival action lawsuits help guarantee the deceased’s beneficiaries’ financial security after death because of another party’s negligence. When it comes to survival action vs. wrongful death, most people get stuck on what legal path to pursue. Some people use both terms interchangeably even though they’re completely different.

Today, we’ll be looking at the difference between survival action and wrongful death lawsuits. That way, you can know which lawsuit to initiate to get fair compensation for your loved one’s death.

What Is Survival Action?

 A survival action is a lawsuit the deceased person’s estate administrator initiates after their death. This lawsuit pursues the benefits the deceased would have received should they have sought a personal injury or workers’ comp claim. Some damages the estate administrator can get from a survival action claim include:

  • Loss of gross earning from the injury date to death of date
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning power

As mentioned earlier, the deceased’s estate administrator is responsible for initiating a survival action claim. This means that any proceeds from the lawsuit will go directly to the deceased’s estate. It also means that the compensation received is subject to inheritance tax, depending on your jurisdiction.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim that can be filed by family members in certain circumstances when their loved one died due to someone else’s negligent or intentional actions.

The amount of compensation in a wrongful death claim varies, depending on the specifics of the case and state laws. While most personal injury cases deal with physical injuries that result in financial loss, wrongful death claims focus strictly on the negligent or intentional act that results in someone’s death.

A few examples of damages from a wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of expected income
  • Loss of companionship and love
  • Cost for the treatment before the deceased’s death
  • Value of services the deceased would have provided

These are just a couple of benefits you should expect from a wrongful death claim. In most states, anyone who shows financial dependence on the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. However, it’s the family of the deceased that files this lawsuit in most cases.

What’s the Difference Between Survival Action and Wrongful Death

Wrongful death and survival action seem pretty similar for all their worth. So what makes the two so different? Well, here are a couple of differences between survival action and wrongful death claims.

The Claimant

The first difference between the two is the individual allowed to bring forth the claim. The deceased’s parents, spouse, or children can bring forth a wrongful death claim. As mentioned above, anybody who was dependent on the deceased can initiate a wrongful death.

On the other hand, only an estate administrator or a representative of the deceased’s estate can bring forth a survival claim. Most states also allow an estate administrator to file a wrongful death claim on the deceased survivor’s behalf. However, the law doesn’t permit the deceased’s survivors to file a survival action claim.

Damages Awarded

There’s a difference between what kind of damages are awarded and how these damages are awarded. Wrongful death claims focus on the losses the family will suffer after losing their loved one. The damages the claimant may be eligible for include loss of companionship and loss of income, among others.

On the other hand, a survival action claim centers on the benefits the deceased would have received had they filed a personal injury or workers’ comp claim. The claim “assumes” that the deceased survived and requires compensation for their injuries. Some damages for survival action include pain and suffering and treatment costs.

Damages Distribution

With wrongful death claims, all the damages you receive aren’t subject to any estate taxes. However, with survival actions, awards from the claim are channeled directly to the estate. This means all the damages are subject to estate laws and taxes.

Signs You Should Hire a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death or Survival Action Claim

Pursuing a wrongful death or survival action claim on your own may not work for the best. Insurance providers are a stubborn bunch and will fight tooth and nail to deny you fair compensation. If the party responsible for the death is uninsured, they may fight to do the same.

Hiring a lawyer ensures you get the compensation you deserve and these benefits too. Here are a few signs you should hire a lawyer for your case.

The Cause of Death Was a Car Accident

If your loved one died from a car accident, the person responsible for the accident must be held accountable. An experienced lawyer will be able to hold the culpable party accountable for the accident that led to your loved one’s death.

The Cause of Death Was a Workplace Accident

Accidents in the workplace aren’t uncommon, but sometimes the accident may result from an individual or employer’s negligence. The bereaved family is eligible for compensation by the party responsible for the accident. Companies may put up a serious fight against the deceased family, but a lawyer will better your chances of winning the lawsuit.

The Death Was a Homicide

We mentioned something about wrongful death being awarded because of intentional action by another party. The courts may view some wrongful death incidents as homicides. That’s because the employer’s “duty of care” may extend to the duty of not killing workers.

If the death is ruled as a homicide, you definitely need a lawyer to help you navigate the case.

Survival Action vs. Wrongful Death Made Easy

Comparing survival action vs. wrongful death should be much easier with the information above. Remember, you can initiate both a survival action and wrongful death claim simultaneously. However, you’ll need a skilled and experienced lawyer to see the success of your claims process.

Be sure to check out the other posts on the site for more informative reads.

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