California is one of only a few states that allow survival actions, which are distinct from wrongful death claims in relation to a range of factors. Both, however, are challenging legal matters. If you’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence, the path toward healing is long and challenging, but just compensation can help you and your family on your journey toward healing.
Whether you are exploring filing a wrongful death claim or survival action, discuss your legal concerns with an experienced Beverly Hills wrongful death attorney today.
The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
Wrongful death claims allow surviving family members of the person who lost their life to someone else’s negligence – the decedent – to seek compensation for their financial and emotional losses, which can include all of the following:
- The loss of income that the decedent will have earned over their lifetime and will have contributed to the household
- The loss of gifts and benefits the decedent will have provided
- The loss of the decedent’s help around the house
- The loss of the decedent’s love, affection, guidance, protection, support, and companionship
- The cost of the decedent’s funeral and burial
In rare instances, punitive damages that are intended to punish the at-fault party are also available.
While all states have some mechanism for addressing wrongful death claims, California is one of the few that allows survival actions.
A survival action only applies when the victim survives the accident in question but ultimately succumbs to the injuries they sustained in that accident. Survival actions specifically address the losses the decedent experienced prior to death. As such, a survival action is much like a personal injury claim against the at-fault party that is filed on behalf of the deceased post-death.
Understanding How Wrongful Death and Survival Actions Differ
While whether you need to bring a wrongful death or survival action – or both – is admittedly confusing, there are important distinctions that can make the matter easier to understand.
Your wrongful death claim
In a wrongful death claim, you can seek compensation for the losses you experience due to your loved one’s untimely death, which can include costs that you cover for the decedent, such as their funeral and burial.
Your survival action
If you file a survival action, it amounts to the equivalent of a personal injury claim that your loved one could have filed had they survived.
In a survival action, you can seek compensation on behalf of your lost loved one’s estate in all the following categories:
- Property damage, such as to their vehicle and its contents, if the accident that ultimately proved fatal was a traffic accident
- The medical bills your loved one incurred from the time of being injured to the time of succumbing to those injuries
- The lost income your loved one experienced from the time of being injured to the time of succumbing to those injuries
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering your loved one endured as a result of being seriously – and, in the end, fatally – injured by someone else’s negligence
California’s Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
A statute of limitations refers to the time limit the state imposes on specific legal actions.
For a wrongful death claim, the family has two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file their claim. However, a discovery rule also applies, which extends this time limit to two years from the date the family members learn of their loved one’s death.
For survival actions, the party filing the case has two years from the wrongful act that ultimately proves fatal or six months from the date of the decedent’s death.
Wrongful death claims and survival actions are not mutually exclusive
Depending upon the situation you find yourself in, there may be a need – and the legal opportunity – to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. While the compensation sought in a survival action benefits the decedent’s estate, it can also benefit your family – as the decedent’s heirs will likely be beneficiaries of that estate.
It is important to note here that only the administrator of the decedent’s estate can file the survival action, but if you are the surviving spouse, you may also be the named administrator. Further, if your loved one has no will or did not name an administrator, the court will make the determination on their behalf.
Reach Out to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in California Today
Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing puts you in a challenging position, but you may have legal options that allow you to seek needed compensation.
The compassionate California wrongful death attorneys at One Law Group are well-positioned to help you protect your legal rights in pursuit of compensation on behalf of your losses and on behalf of those your loved one experienced.
For more information about how we can help, please contact us online or call us at 310-923-9420.
Wrongful Death Claim FAQs
What is the primary difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?
You can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your losses in relation to your loved one’s untimely death and can file a survival action on behalf of the losses your loved one incurred post-accident and prior to death.
What kind of compensation can be sought in a survival action?
You can seek compensation for the losses your loved one will have addressed in a personal injury claim had they survived to file one, including:
- Any property damage involved
- Medical costs from the time of the accident to the time of death
- Lost income from the time of the accident to the time of death
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering from the time of the accident to the time of death
Who can bring a survival action?
A survival action is brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate by the executor of that estate.