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

Whenever a motor vehicle accident occurs, it is important for accident victims to work with an experienced attorney to see to it that they have their case evaluated to determine the type and extent of the injuries and losses, what legal claims may be appropriate to seek recovery, and what evidence there may be to support these legal claims and damages requested.

In motor vehicle accident cases, there are several important tort actions that may be brought, depending on the circumstances. Personal injury actions are limited to those who are still living and who have suffered injury as a result of the negligence of another party. This type of action may be brought by those who have suffered injuries ranging from the mild to the catastrophic. Two other types of action, however, may be brought by the survivors of accident victims. 

One of these actions is a wrongful death claim, which is a type of claim that can be brought by a surviving party who suffers damages from the death of an accident victim. Compensatory damages—such as medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering—are ordinarily available in these cases, though punitive damages may be available when there is evidence that the actions that caused the accident was willful or grossly negligent. These claims may be brought by the deceased individual’s personal representative. The amount recovered is distributed to next of kin according to a specific priority laid out in state law.

Survival actions are another type of claim that may be available. We’ll take a look at this topic in our next post, and the importance of working with an experienced attorney when pursuing compensation after a motor vehicle accident.

Source: Kentucky Revised Statutes, 411.130

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