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Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action

When faced with the tragic loss of a loved one, understanding the legal avenues available can be a complex and emotionally taxing process. In such situations, two types of legal claims often come into play: wrongful death claims and survival actions. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the surviving family members, accounting for the full value of the life of the deceased person, including both tangible and intangible elements like emotional and economic support. On the other hand, a survival action is filed on behalf of the deceased person’s estate, focusing on the losses incurred from the time of injury until death, such as medical expenses and pain suffered. Navigating between these two claims can be difficult, especially after a tragic loss, as each addresses different aspects of the person’s death as well as compensation following their death. 

This is where the expertise of Sandy Springs wrongful death attorneys at Ashenden & Associates becomes invaluable. With their deep understanding of Georgia laws, we can provide crucial guidance in breaking down wrongful death vs. survival action, as well as in deciding the most appropriate claim to pursue. No matter which claim you pursue, we’ll ensure that your rights and interests are effectively represented and protected during such a difficult time. 

Call a Sandy Springs personal injury attorney at 770-394-8909 today to schedule a free consultation.

Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought when a family member dies as a result of another’s negligence or intentional act. A wrongful death action is designed to provide compensation for the survivors of the deceased, addressing the financial and emotional impact of their loss. The focus of wrongful death lawsuits is on the value of the life lost, encompassing both economic factors like lost financial support and benefits, as well as non-economic factors such as the loss of companionship, care, and emotional support. These claims basically serve as a means for the deceased’s loved ones to seek justice and financial stability in the aftermath of a tragic loss. 

How Wrongful Death Claims Work

A wrongful death claim is a civil action that allows the deceased’s family or estate representatives to seek compensation for their family member’s death due to someone else’s negligence or intentional harm. 

In this process, the plaintiff (usually the deceased’s next of kin or an appointed representative of the estate) must establish key elements: the defendant’s duty of care towards the deceased, a breach of this duty through negligent or intentional actions, and a direct link between this breach and the resulting death. Once these elements are proven, the claim focuses on quantifying the damages suffered, which typically include lost income and potential earnings the deceased would have provided, loss of companionship and emotional support for the family, and, in some cases, punitive damages against the party responsible. Wrongful death cases may also cover funeral and burial expenses and, in some situations, the medical expenses incurred prior to the person’s death. 

Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit requires a thorough understanding of the legal intricacies involved, and it’s often pursued with the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can effectively represent the family’s interests and ensure a fair and just resolution.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

Who can sue for wrongful death in Georgia? Under Georgia law, the following parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The deceased person’s spouse.
  • If there is no spouse, the children of the deceased person.
  • If there is no spouse or children, the parents of the deceased person.
  • If none of the above, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.
what is survival action

Wrongful Death Damages

Wrongful death damages encompass the various forms of compensation that the surviving family members or the estate of the deceased can seek in a wrongful death claim. These damages are intended to address the financial and emotional impact of the loved one’s death. The typical categories of damages include:

  • Economic Damages: These are quantifiable financial losses resulting from the death, such as:
    • Lost wages and future earnings that the deceased would have provided.
    • Lost benefits (like pension or medical benefits).
    • Medical bills incurred due to the incident leading to death.
    • Burial and funeral expenses.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These are losses that don’t have monetary value and typically include:
    • Loss of companionship, love, and care that the deceased would have provided to family members.
    • Mental anguish and grief experienced by the survivors due to the loss.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, particularly where the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious or intentional, punitive damages may be awarded in a wrongful death suit. These are meant to punish the responsible party and deter similar conduct in the future.

It’s important to note that the calculation of these damages can be complex, involving various factors unique to each case. That’s why it’s so important to hire Sandy Springs wrongful death attorneys at Ashenden & Associates. We can help family members accurately assess these damages and ensure that they receive fair compensation that reflects the full impact of their loss.

What is a Survival Action Lawsuit?

A survival action is a distinct legal claim that arises when an individual suffers catastrophic injuries that eventually lead to their death. Unlike a wrongful death claim, which seeks compensation for the loss suffered by the deceased’s survivors, a survival action claim is brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate. It aims to recover damages the deceased could have claimed if they had survived. This includes compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased from the time of injury until death, medical expenses incurred due to his or her injuries, and potentially lost wages during that period. 

Essentially, a survival action acts as a personal injury lawsuit for the deceased. Survival action lawsuits allow the estate to “step into the shoes” of the deceased to recover damages for the losses suffered directly by the deceased as a result of the defendant’s wrongful actions. This type of action ensures that the harms inflicted upon the deceased are addressed, even after their death, and can be a crucial component in seeking comprehensive justice in cases of fatal injuries.

How a Survival Action Works on Behalf of the Deceased Person’s Estate

A survival action functions as a continuation of a legal claim that the deceased could have pursued had they survived their injuries. This type of claim is filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the estate. Here’s how it typically works:

  • Initiation of the Claim: The survival action claim is initiated by the estate’s representative. It’s essential that this representative is officially appointed and has the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
  • Establishing Liability: Like in personal injury lawsuits, the estate must prove that the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions caused the deceased’s injuries, leading to their death.
  • Claiming Damages: The damages sought in a survival action can include:
    • Medical expenses incurred from the time of injury until death.
    • Lost wages if the deceased was employed and lost income due to the injury before death.
    • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between the injury and death.
  • Distribution of Recovery: Any damages awarded are added to the estate and then distributed according to the deceased’s will or, in the absence of a will, according to state intestacy laws.

Who Can File a Survival Action in Georgia?

In Georgia, a survival action can be filed by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

wrongful death and survival action

Common Causes of Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

The common causes of wrongful death and survival actions span a range of circumstances where negligence or intentional harm results in a fatal outcome. These actions arise from various scenarios, including:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, or bicycles, often due to reckless driving, DUI, or other traffic violations. Sandy Springs car accident attorneys can provide more information about your legal options.
  • Medical Malpractice: Including surgical errors, misdiagnosis, childbirth injuries, and medication errors that lead to a patient’s death. If the negligence of a medical professional has resulted in the death of a loved one or newborn, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sandy Springs medical malpractice attorneys.
  • Workplace Accidents: Especially in high-risk industries like construction, manufacturing, or energy, where safety violations or hazardous conditions can be fatal. If your loved one has tragically died due to hazardous work conditions, contact a Sandy Springs work injury lawyer today.
  • Product Liability: Where defective or unsafe products cause death, ranging from faulty automotive parts to hazardous consumer goods.
  • Premises Liability: Such as slip and fall accidents, inadequate security, or unsafe property conditions leading to fatal incidents. Sandy Springs slip and fall accident attorneys can help surviving family members obtain justice and financial compensation.
  • Criminal Acts: Including violent crimes like homicide or manslaughter that result in the victim’s death.

Each of these causes represents a scenario where legal accountability through a wrongful death or survival action can be pursued, providing a pathway for justice and compensation for the deceased’s family or estate. Understanding the specific cause and context of the incident is crucial in determining the appropriate legal response and strategy.

Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action: What’s the Main Difference?

So, what is the main difference between wrongful death and survival action?

The main difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action lies in the nature and purpose of each legal recourse. A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the survivors of the deceased, such as family members, and seeks compensation for their personal losses due to their loved one’s death. This includes economic damages like lost future earnings and benefits, as well as non-economic damages like loss of companionship and emotional pain and suffering. 

Survival actions differ in that they are filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate, not the survivors. They aim to address the damages the deceased incurred from the time of their injury until their death. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages during the period of injury to death, and compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering at that time. 

Essentially, a wrongful death lawsuit focuses on the impact of the death on the survivors, while survival actions concentrate on the losses suffered by the deceased prior to their death. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in determining the appropriate legal strategy following the tragic loss of a loved one.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action at the Same Time?

In Georgia, it is possible to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action simultaneously, as they address different types of damages related to the same incident. Be sure to ask a Sandy Springs personal injury attorney whether or not this would be the best course of action for you.

Georgia Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death and Survival Action Claims

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death and survival actions is typically two years from the date of a person’s death. This means that family members have up to two years to file a wrongful death suit or survival action on behalf of their loved one. However, there can be exceptions depending on the specifics of the case. Be sure to speak with an experienced attorney at Ashenden & Associates as soon as possible so that your case won’t potentially be dismissed.

difference between wrongful death and survival action

Sandy Springs Wrongful Death Attorneys

If you are grappling with the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, it’s crucial to seek skilled legal guidance. The Sandy Springs wrongful death attorneys at Ashenden & Associates stand ready to support you during this challenging time. With a deep understanding of Georgia’s wrongful death and survival action laws, we are equipped to navigate the complexities of your case with compassion and professionalism. We’ll work diligently to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve, handling all legal aspects so you can focus on healing. Their commitment to thorough legal representation makes them a trusted ally in your pursuit of justice. Don’t face this difficult journey alone; contact Ashenden & Associates today at 770-394-8909 to schedule a free initial consultation.