Wrongful Deaths and Survival Actions: What You Need to Know
When wrongful deaths happen, they cause both grief and a sense of loss compounded by financial uncertainty. The latter is particularly true when the deceased is primarily responsible for family support. When the person’s death occurs due to negligence, it compounds the emotional toll. While no amount of money lessens our grief, it can help with the financial reality of going forward. A wrongful death lawyer can help you overcome this part of your new life without the one you need and love.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death is due to either a negligent act or one intentionally committed. It can occur after an automobile accident, a defective product or drug, surgery, mistreatment by someone in a nursing home or murder. The family or their legal representative files a claim in court to receive the compensation and closure they require. There are different damage categories of wrongful deaths:
- Survival actions: This type of lawsuit in California lets the family members file a claim on behalf of the decedent through a personal representative. The claim outlasts the person’s death and covers the period between the time an accident occurred to the person’s demise. This can range from hours to days or longer prior to the person’s death. It is basically an injury lawsuit. The damages in a survival action include the medical expenses the person incurred, the wages they lost and other expenses such as property damages. In California, punitive damages can be awarded. A survival action does not compensate for the family’s expenses. The statute of limitations for a survival action is two years from the date the decedent was injured or six months after the decedent died, whichever is later. In the event the person died immediately after the accident, a survival action cannot be filed. Survival actions can be filed separately from claims for wrongful deaths, or the two can be filed simultaneously. However, they are different from one another and have different requirements.
- Family losses: Under California Civil Procedures 377.60, the family is able to recover the financial loss they suffered due to the death of their family member. It is filed by the family members. In California, the statute of limitations or the time period that a claim can be filed in two years starting with the date of death. Punitive damages, or those meant to punish the wrongdoer, are generally not allowed in a wrongful death claim. However, it may be permitted if the person died as a result of a felony and the defendant was convicted of murder in a court of law under California Civil Code 3294 part “d.”
Types of Survival Action Cases
Let’s look at some different types of survival action cases;
- The decedent is injured in a car accident but survives for several weeks before passing away.
- The deceased person is living in a nursing home and dies due to abuse from the staff or because they were not given their medication.
- Someone falls due to property negligence and dies days later due to a head injury.
- A person dies due to medical mistakes in a hospital or due to a defective drug and dies sometime later.
- A driver is killed because his or her brakes or airbag is defective and dies later at a hospital because of it.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The following can file a wrongful death claim or a survival action:
- Spouses or domestic partners
- Children of the decedent
- Putative spouse if dependent on the decedent
- Stepchildren if they can show they were dependent on the deceased person
- Parents if they received support from the decedent
- Siblings if no one else is allowed to file when the person dies, and they would be eligible for intestate succession
Citrus Heights Wrongful Death Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Citrus Heights wrongful death lawyer. If a member of your family died because of someone’s negligence, you may have the right to compensation. Call me for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. You can also contact me online.
I am a long-standing member of the Million Dollar Advocates. We are trial attorneys who have won in excess of $1 million for a client. I have also been recognized as one of the top one percent of lawyers who promote legal excellence by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.
If you want to retain a lawyer, take some time and learn about their practice first. You can learn about mine on the following pages:
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