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Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Action and a Survival Action?

Survival actions and wrongful death suits are both statutory laws, meaning they are governed by state law. Each allow for damages to be awarded when the death of an individual is due to a personal injury caused by the negligence or carelessness of another. However, there are key differences between the two.

A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the estate on behalf of the beneficiaries who are most affected by the death of the deceased. In contrast, survival laws allow the estate to recover damages that the deceased person would have been entitled to if he or she had not died, for example—pain and suffering and lost wages.

Wrongful Death Damages

Wrongful death damages are awarded to the deceased’s beneficiaries, who are usually the person’s spouse, minor children, and other dependent relatives for whom the deceased provided financial support. For the spouse, loss of support is usually awarded through the deceased’s presumed retirement age (usually 65). Minor children will receive loss of support through at least age 18, and often through their college years if it can be proven that the deceased planned on contributing to their college education.

Spouses may also be able to collect damages for loss of consortium and children may be entitled to damages due to loss of guidance and nurture. For other family members, such as parents, siblings or adult children, they will have to prove that the deceased person provided for their support, and to what extent, in order to collect damages.

Funeral and burial expenses will also be awarded to the estate (although on occasion these are awarded under survival damages).

Damages Allowed Under Survival Laws

The estate may be awarded damages that the deceased incurred from the moment that the injury took place until the time of his or her death. These damages can include an allowance for the deceased’s pain and suffering, as well as loss of earnings. However, if the deceased died immediately as a result of the injury, the estate may still be entitled to collect damages for pain and suffering (if it can be proven that pain and suffering did indeed occur), but would not be entitled to damages for loss of wages.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney

Losing someone you love due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence can be almost unbearable. It may be difficult to carry on with everyday activities, let alone sort out what needs to be done to protect your family’s financial future. That is why it is so important to work with a trusted Chicago wrongful death attorney. When you reach out to Shea Law Group, you can relax knowing that our legal team understands what you are going through and has the extensive expertise to achieve the settlement you are entitled to. Give us a call today.