What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions? | Ellis Injury Law

What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions?

If you tragically lose a loved one due to the wrongful actions of another person or entity, the two primary options you have for legal recourse in civil court are a wrongful death action and a survival action. While both types of lawsuits can lead to financial compensation for the victim’s surviving loved ones, there are some distinct differences between the two actions. In short, a wrongful death lawsuit will compensate the survivors for damages incurred by both the victim and the survivors. On the other hand, survival actions only grant financial recovery to the survivors for the damages incurred by the victim between the time of injury and death. A qualified Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help explain all of the intricacies to you.   

What are the possible damages in a wrongful death lawsuit? 

One other key difference between the two actions is that wrongful death claims are paid out directly to the victim’s survivors, whereas survival actions are dispersed through the victim’s estate. Wrongful death lawsuits have the potential to net a greater financial windfall for the survivors than a survival action does, as wrongful death claims encompass many more types of damages. In addition to including the damages incurred by the deceased from the time of the injury to the time of his or her death, wrongful death lawsuits also cover damages that will be incurred by the survivors in the future. Here are some of the common categories of damages for which wrongful death plaintiffs may be able to recover:  

  • Medical expenses of the deceased 
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering sustained by the victim 
  • Burial and funeral expenses 
  • Lost wages between the time of the injury and the time of death  
  • Loss of the income that the deceased would have made in the future  
  • Loss of the victim’s benefits, such as health insurance or a pension 
  • Prospective inheritances from the deceased that the survivors lost 
  • Mental and emotional pain and suffering incurred by the survivors 
  • Loss of the victim’s services, which typically includes child care or housework 
  • Loss of companionship 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Punitive damages may be possible in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, and these serve to deter both the defendant and society at large from those actions in the future 

Damages in a survival action are more limited 

By comparison, the recoverable damages in a survival action are more limited. They only focus on the damages accumulated by the victim in the period between the injury and the death, rather than looking forward into the future at the damages of the victim’s loved ones. These damages include the following: 

  • Doctor and hospital bills 
  • Mental and physical pain and suffering of the deceased between the time of the accident and the time of death 
  • Lost income in the period between the injury and death 

We strongly recommend that you work with an attorney 

Whether you are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit or a survival lawsuit, the defendant in your case will be doing everything in its power to minimize the amount of your financial recovery. With a trusted wrongful death attorney on your side, you can rest assured that your legal rights will be fully protected and pursued.  

This is your chance to see why we are so successful  

Not only can our wrongful death lawyers at Ellis Injury Law help you determine which type of lawsuit fits your situation the best, but we can also explain the process each step of the way and work to maximize the amount of your financial recovery. Over the past 25 years, we have earned over $350 Million in jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of our valued clients here in Southern California, and have delivered a success rate of 99 percent.  

We are always available, and consultations are always free 

If you have questions about wrongful death or survival actions, give us a call today to schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Our phone lines are open 24/7, and we never charge you anything unless you prevail.