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What’s a survival action, and how does it work?

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2023 | Wrongful Death

Whenever someone dies as the result of another party’s negligent, reckless or unlawful intentional actions, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the victim’s survivors. However, that’s not the only action they can take.

“Survival” actions are often pursued in tandem with wrongful death claims. Understanding more about what these are and how they work can help you better evaluate your options.

How do survival actions relate to wrongful death claims?

A wrongful death claim pursues compensation on behalf of the deceased’s family. If successful, it can cover things like the loss of companionship and guidance from the deceased, their lost income and financial support to their dependents, reasonable funeral and burial expenses and other damages. In other words, wrongful death actions are focused on the losses of the living.

By comparison, a survival action is focused on the losses suffered by the deceased between the time of the incident that eventually claimed their life and their actual death. In essence, it’s the personal injury lawsuit that the deceased could have brought – had they lived – against the responsible party or parties. The type of damages that can be pursued include medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and property losses.

In some states, these kinds of personal injury claims die when the victim dies, but California law specifically allows such lawsuits to continue. They are pursued, however, on behalf of the deceased’s estate. If they’re successful, the compensation goes into the estate and is distributed either according to the victim’s will or the rules of intestate succession.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to another party’s actions, legal guidance can help you obtain some measure of justice.