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Survival Action vs Wrongful Death Lawsuits

What Is the Difference Between Survival Action and Wrongful Death Cases?

Many people may have a difficult time trying to comprehend the difference between survival action and wrongful death. These two circumstances do involve the death of a loved one, however, timing differentiates when one or the other may become effective. Below, we will discuss further into detail about what each term means and how it is applied when a person loses their life due to the negligence of another party.

If you have lost a loved one and would like to pursue legal actions against the party at-fault for damages, our qualified Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are available 24/7 to offer assistance. We will review your case to determine what necessary courses of action to take in order to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free consultation at our Los Angeles personal injury law firm, please contact us by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form.

Survival Action vs Wrongful Death

  • Survival action permits the estate to receive damages the deceased victim would have gotten if they were alive. This is only applicable in situations where the victim survived for a short-period of time after the incident that resulted in their death. This includes penalties, punitive damages, or exemplary damages that the decedent would have received if they had lived.

    Timing also plays an important role. For example, an individual suffered a serious spinal cord injury after getting into a car accident due to their defective vehicle falling apart while on the road. The individual was physically unable to go back to work and passed away months after the incident took place. Survival action will allow the estate to be awarded damages that the decedent could have been given starting from the date of the injury until the time of their death. This includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses. Now, if the individual passed away immediately after the crash, then the estate would be entitled to pain and suffering, if it can be proven.

  • Wrongful death allows the victim’s surviving family and other parties to be entitled to damages. This includes:
    • Funeral and burial expenses
    • Medical expenses and hospital bills
    • Loss of financial support
    • Loss of consortium
    • Loss of the victim’s services had they been alive
    • Loss of love, protection, affection, and support

    Wrongful death cases may be awarded to the:

    • Significant other. The deceased victim’s spouse or registered domestic partner typically files a claim for lost companionship and emotional distress due to the victim’s death.
    • Children. Generally, minor children would be awarded damages for the lost benefits, comfort, and support from losing their parent(s).
    • Parents. Parents who have minor children that died may receive damages for experiencing emotional distress and the lost relationship of their children.

Punitive damages may also be awarded if there is proof of the suspect exhibiting acts of negligent and reckless behavior that resulted in the victim’s death. However, these damages are not given in a wrongful death lawsuit. This may only apply in a survival cause of action on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

Statute of Limitations

Survival action. If the deceased victim passed away immediately after the negligent act was committed, then the plaintiff will be given a two year time period starting from the date of the wrongful act or six months from the initial date of the decedent’s death.

Wrongful Death. The plaintiff is given two years from the date of when the incident occurred to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the discovery rule may be applied. According to the discovery rule, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case will not begin until the decedent’s surviving family members find out about the death. Additional time will be added to allow the family to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Other types of statute of limitations for a wrongful death case include:

  • Medical Malpractice. Under a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff will be given three years starting from the date of when the death occurred to file a claim or one year after the plaintiff discovered or should have discovered the death, whichever one comes first.
  • Public or Government Entity. If a wrongful death was caused by a public or government entity, then the statute of limitations will be six months starting from the initial date of death.

Contact Us

If you have lost a loved one due to negligent actions committed by another party, our expert team of Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for damages you have suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.

Contact us today by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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