WRONGFUL DEATH AND SURVIVAL ACTIONS
The loss of a loved one is among the hardest challenges a person will face, but when a loved is taken from us as a result of another person’s negligence or malicious actions, our sorrow is intensified by confusion, anger, and resentment.
A wrongful death accident can be emotionally and psychologically draining on the surviving family members of a wrongful death victim. Along with pain and suffering, the unexpected financial burdens that follow a wrongful accident, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost wages, are devastating.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed against individuals, companies, and government agencies. A wrongful death refers to any fatality that occurs as a result of a willful act, wrongful act, or negligence on the part of another. Wrongful deaths can occur in a variety of ways, some of which include:
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Motor Vehicle accident
- Workplace injury
- Toxic injuries
- Defective products
- Falls/ property injuries
- Criminal Assaults/homicide
When someone suffers a wrongful death there are two types of claims that can be filed. One is called a WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM the other is a SURVIVAL CLAIM. The Wrongful Death Claim is the claim filed by the decedent’s close family members for the loss they incurred as a result of the wrongful death that their loved one suffered. A Survival Claim is the claim filed by the actual estate of the decedent and in essence the decedent’s claim “survives” his or her death. The winnings in a Survival Claim go to the estate of the decedent and are distributed pursuant to his or her will; whereas the winnings in a Wrongful Death go to the actual family member in interest.
Some other helpful distinctions between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions are as follows:
Only certain CLOSE family members can sue for Wrongful Death.
A wrongful death action belongs to the people most affected by the death of a family member. Pennsylvania law only recognizes spouses, parents or children of the victim as eligible to commence a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent had no spouse, parents or children, the right to sue for wrongful death damages belongs to the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
Wrongful Death considers the loss of the family members.
The damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit focus on the losses suffered by the decedent’s family, not the victim. Damages include loss of income, loss of support, medical and funeral expenses, and the loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, comfort, and consortium of the loved one.
Survival Actions Focus on the Victim’s Losses.
Survival Actions seek to recover damages that the victim would have been able to claim in a personal injury or other tort lawsuit if the victim had survived. The most important element is the conscious pain and suffering that the victim experienced between the time of the accident and the time of death. The actual earnings that a person would have made in a lifetime is also another category of these damages.
Wrongful Death and Survival is a complicated body of law and a skilled, experienced, and perhaps most important, an aggressive attorney needs to be retained immediately so that he or she can adequately pursue justice for you and your family.