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Wrongful death vs. survivor actions: what’s the difference? P.2

Last time, we began looking at the differences between personal injury, wrongful death and survival claims. As we noted, each of these causes of action may be available after a motor vehicle accident, depending on the facts and circumstances of the crash. In cases where a fatality occurs, both wrongful death and survival actions should be considered.

With wrongful death actions, the claim is for losses to a surviving family member as a result the loved one’s death. These damages, again, include things like loss of companionship, loss of services, and medical or funeral expenses. With survival actions, the claim is for damages that the crash victim would have been entitled to receive had he or she survived. Survival actions are not possible in cases where the accident victim dies immediately. 

Because survival actions pertain to damages the deceased individual suffered prior to death, building a strong damages case in connection with survival actions requires proving damages in the same way damages would be proved in a personal injury claim. These claims typically have a significant focus on medical bills and pain and suffering, though some cases may also include damages for lost wages, as well as punitive damages. It depends on the type of injuries the deceased person suffered in the accident, and how long the person lived prior to passing away.

Survival actions may be brought by either the deceased individual’s personal representative. In bringing a survival action, or the other types of claims we’ve discussed in recent posts, it is important for accident victims or their survivors to work with an experienced attorney to ensure they seek appropriate legal remedies and that they build the strongest possible damages case.

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