Many people confuse wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions, and understandably so. Both actions arise from someone else causing a person’s death. The key to understanding survival actions and wrongful death lawsuits is the cause of death of your loved one.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Under Florida law, if your loved one died because of the negligence or wrongful action of someone else, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but not a survival action. If the deceased person had already filed a personal injury lawsuit for the injuries that would eventually cause their death, that case cannot continue. The family can file a wrongful death case.
If your loved one had previously been in an accident and filed a lawsuit for the cause of injuries unrelated to their cause of death, that lawsuit continues as a survival action.
An Example Showing the Difference
For example, let us say that your loved one suffered severe injuries in a car accident. They filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the wreck.
While the car accident lawsuit was still pending, they sustained a traumatic brain injury from a submersion accident at a neighbor’s swimming pool. They filed a personal injury lawsuit against the neighbors, but later died from the traumatic brain injury.
Under Florida law, the car accident case can continue as a survival action, but the swimming pool accident cannot go on, because the swimming accident was the injury that eventually caused death. But loved ones can pursue a wrongful death action for the swimming pool accident.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases
Since a wrongful death action seeks to hold the at-fault party responsible, family members can recover the losses they suffered as a result of the death. These damages can include:
- Loss of income for the decedent’s financial contribution to the family
- Loss of services for things the decedent did for the family, like housekeeping activities or lawn maintenance
- Burial expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering of family members
Damages Available in Survival Actions
A survival action continues the claim the decedent made for losses unrelated to their death, so the damages will be whatever the decedent had alleged in the claim. For example, if they filed a personal injury action for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, and pain and suffering from an accident, their loved ones can continue the claim to seek those damages.
Getting Help for a Wrongful Death or Survival Action
Although having to think about a lawsuit while you are grieving the loss of your loved one is not something that most people want to deal with, wrongful death cases and survival actions have short deadlines.
Give us a call, and we will sort out whether a wrongful death or survival action is appropriate. We will handle the case from start to finish so that you can focus on your family and your emotional well-being. Call the Montero Law Center today at 954-767-6500, and we will set up your free consultation.