Understanding the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
When a person falls victim to the negligence of another and that negligence leads to the person’s death, then a family will often sue the negligent party in a wrongful death suit. However, when it comes to such claims, many people do not realize that there are two ways to bring about legal action: (1) a wrongful death claim and (2) a survival action. While these two terms might not be familiar with the surviving families, they are relatively common for attorneys specializing in wrongful death litigation. However, to help those who are less familiar, it helps to define each term separately.
The Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is typically centered around the suffering of the family and not the deceased. Therefore, damages will focus on the financial hardships caused by the loss of the decedent as well as the pain and suffering brought about by that loss. For example, wrongful death claims will often seek compensation for funeral and hospital expenses as well as any future lost wages of the decedent. Also, plaintiffs in this type of action might seek financial reward for the loss of consortium and society.
The Survival Action
A survival action focuses on the deceased rather than their survivors. Essentially, these actions are similar to what a personal injury lawsuit would have been if the victim had survived their injuries. Therefore, the decedent’s estate fails suit to recover damages relating to lost earnings and the pain and suffering of the victim. If the estate is successful, then the compensation is awarded to the estate and then dispersed to the beneficiaries.
The key difference in each claim type is the focus of the trial. Wrongful death claims focus on the mourning survivors, whereas a survival claim focuses on the suffering of the deceased. Also, the person who files the claim is different in each instance. For example, a wrongful death claim is typically brought by family members, such as a spouse or parent, but the executor of the estate files a survival action.
Therefore, while there are strong similarities in each type of civil action, there exist significant differences between wrongful death claims and survival actions. However, if you do not possess the legal knowledge, then no one expects you to understand the importance of each action. Therefore, find a knowledgeable and capable attorney, like a wrongful death law firm in Indianapolis, IN, to walk you through the process of filing a claim, and ask them any necessary clarifying questions, so you can decide the best way to move forward.
Thank you to the experts at Ward & Ward Law Firm, for their insight into personal injury law.