Survival actions explained

Those in San Jose who are involved in accidents that result in extensive injuries may have cause to pursue claims against the people that caused said accidents. Yet before they can initiate action, they typically need time to recover from their injuries. Many often wonder, then, what happens if those people ultimately die before being able to pursue their claims? The immediate assumption may be either that their claim dies with them, or those that they leave behind file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. 

In many cases, neither may be true. Per the California Code of Civil Procedure, if a cause of action exists to pursue a personal injury claim, that cause survives the death of the person to whom it belongs. The deceased claimant’s personal representative can then pursue the claim on their behalf. This may sound to some to be exactly like a wrongful death lawsuit, and indeed both forms of litigation are similar. There are, however, some distinct differences between the two. 

The chief of these is the type of reward that may be earned through litigation. In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are meant to compensate for the loss of the decedent. Those damages are awarded to the decedent’s estate expressly for the benefit of those that they leave behind. A survival action, on the other hand, is similar to a standard personal injury claim in that damages are meant for the claimant (or in this case, the decedent). The American Bar Association lists some of the potential damages that can be awarded in a personal injury case as being: 

  • Compensation for medical bills and lost wages
  • Compensation for future wage losses
  • Compensation for pain and suffering

Wrongful death lawsuit rewards typically do not account for non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering. 

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