Know the Differences between Survival Action and Wrongful Death
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by a negligent party and wish to pursue legal action, it is essential to know the distinctions between a wrongful death lawsuit (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60) and a survival action (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.30), along with the elements of each type of lawsuit, including rights and qualifications.
Only certain parties are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The relevant statute specifies that the following parties are qualified:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- The surviving children of the decedent
- The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
The following people can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit, but only if they can prove that they were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of his death:
- The putative spouse and children of the decedent
- The stepchildren of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent
Damages available in a wrongful death suit include funeral and burial expenses, all past and projected future loss of earnings and support, loss of services, and loss of love, comfort, society, companionship, affection, and moral support. Punitive damages, however, are not recoverable.
If the decedent did not immediately die from his or her injuries, the estate’s personal representative or the decedent’s successor-in-interest may bring a survival action. Damages recoverable under the statute include “the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived,” such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as punitive or exemplary damages. However, damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement are not included.
If you are qualified to bring both types of lawsuits, you may have the option of consolidating the two distinct legal actions into a single lawsuit. Consult with an attorney to determine whether this would be the right path to take in your case.
At Wilshire Law Firm, our compassionate wrongful death attorneys treat clients like family, prioritizing their needs and goals above all. Throughout the years of our practice, we have successfully represented countless plaintiffs in wrongful death actions from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and bus accidents. To learn more about what our firm can do to get you the justice and compensation you deserve, call us today at (800) 522-7274. We offer FREE consultations.