In California, when a family member dies because of another’s negligence, there are two types of lawsuits that may be filed. Wrongful death lawsuits are brought by members of the decedent’s family for the harms that the family of the deceased suffered. A survival action is the lawsuit that the deceased person would have been able to bring had he or she lived. In other words, a wrongful death lawsuit compensates the family for their loss while a survival action compensates the decedent’s estate for the decedent’s losses.
Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.20 has afforded Californians the right to pursue civil recourse if a person dies having a cause of action for injuries suffered during life – a “survival” action. Survival actions can be brought if the victim survived and did not suffer an instantaneous death. For example, someone may suffer injuries in a car accident and then die a month later as a result of his or her injuries. A survival action would allow that victim’s estate to seek the compensation that the victim would have been able to seek had they survived.
While wrongful death and survival actions can be brought separately or together, it is critical that your attorney is able to distinguish a wrongful death action from a survival action. Punitive damages are only recoverable in survival causes of action. and are not recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Furthermore, a survival cause of action must be brought by the decedent’s personal representative. If the decedent does not have a personal representative, the action can be brought by the decedent’s successor in interest.
If you or your family has lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or wrongful acts, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can passionately advocate on your behalf.
Contact Chichyan Law APC today at 818-488-9448 to schedule a courtesy consultation.