Wrongful Death Claims
It is truly tragic when an accident caused by someone else’s negligence results in the death of a loved one. To protect certain family members in these terribly unfortunate situations, California law provides for both wrongful death and survival actions.
Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death action may be brought by the decedent’s (the deceased person’s) spouse, children, parents or siblings for money lost because of the decedent’s death. In a wrongful death action, the amount of money that can be recovered amounts to the monetary loss suffered by the family members who are now deprived of that part of the decedent’s earnings that they would have received if the decedent had lived.
These beneficiaries may also recover money damages for hospital, nursing, medical, funeral and estate administration expenses that they had to pay because of the injuries that resulted in the decedent’s death.
In a survival action, the decedent’s personal representative stands in the place of the decedent for purposes of a lawsuit. In other words, when a person is injured by someone else’s negligence, the injured person can bring a lawsuit. If the injured person dies, death doesn’t take away the cause of action or claim. The cause of action survives the death of the injured person and continues in the personal representative.
The survival action simply continues the right to sue and recover money for such things as pain and suffering and lost earnings that the decedent had before they died.