What’s The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

When you lose a loved one due to the negligence of someone, you have the option of filing a wrongful death claim. However, you also have another legal course to pursue in order to recover compensatory damages for such a tragic loss. You can file a survival action claim against the negligent entity. Wrongful death claims and survival action claims are often confused with each other. This is because they bear many similarities and are filed after the death of a person through negligence. However, the two types of claims are legally distinct and have clear differences.

Differences Between Wrongful Death And Survival Action

A wrongful death claim is typically focused on the loss of the relatives, dependents, survivors, and family of the deceased. A claim of this kind aims to address their loss by allowing them to seek compensation for it. In contrast, a survival action claim is something the deceased may have filed for his or her personal injury had they survived. So it is more focused on the losses suffered by the deceased himself or herself. Here is a look at more specific differences between the two types of claims.


The most notable difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action claim is that of damages. In a wrongful death claim, it is possible to recover a more comprehensive range of damages. In general, the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim include:
  • Medical costs. These are the costs of medical treatment that may have been incurred from the accident that caused the fatal injury, until the death. Such costs may cover life-saving surgeries, any other procedures, as well as the hospital bills and the medication expenses.
  • Funeral and Burial costs. The survivors of the deceased, or the deceased person’s estate, can also recover funeral and burial costs in a wrongful death claim.
  • Financial Damages. The main body of damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim is financial damages. A number of relatives of the deceased person, such as the spouse, children, legal heirs, and relatives are entitled to these damages depending on legal conditions. Any of these entities filing for such damages must be able to show that they depended upon the deceased for financial support. Under the claim, the claimants can seek damages to cover financial support until the date they had expected to receive it from the deceased person.
  • Loss of Consortium. These are the non-economic damages that can be recovered under a wrongful death claim in California. A spouse can, for instance, seek these for losing the love of the deceased. The children of the deceased can seek these for losing companionship and guidance of a parent.
In a survival action claim, the damages that can be sought are more limited. In general, these include any damages that can be claimed for losses incurred from the time of a person’s injury until their death. These may include:
  • Medical Bills: If the victim suffered an injury but then died at a later date, damages in lieu of medical costs can be recovered in a survival action claim. This is only if the victim underwent medical treatment before the death.
  • Lost Earnings: Suppose a victim suffered an injury but passed away three months later. The victim thus lost three months’ worth of earning before the demise. These are recoverable in a survival action claim.
  • Pain and Suffering: A victim who lost his life through the negligence of another person may have suffered a sudden death, or death after experiencing significant pain and suffering for a period. When the latter is the case, damages can be claimed in a survival action lawsuit.

Who Can File the Claim?

Both types of claims significantly differ also in terms of who can file them. A wrongful death claim can be filed by the spouse, children, financial dependents, and estate of the deceased. In contrast, a survival action claim can only be brought forth by the estate of the deceased.

Hiring a Reliable Wrongful Death Attorney in Orange County

If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence and don’t know whether to file a wrongful death claim or a survival action claim, we can help you. Here at Crockett Law Group, our attorneys specialize in handling wrongful death claims. We work with you to make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your claim or schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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