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

Both survival actions and wrongful death actions are available under Wisconsin law. However, there are significant differences between the two different types of claims. Wrongful death and survival damages are completely separate actions that involve different types of damages.

Survival actions concern the conscious pain and suffering, loss of wages, and medical bills that accrued prior to the victim’s death. A deceased person’s estate brings the action on behalf of the deceased. Damages are limited to those that the deceased to which he or she would have been entitled had he or she survived the accident. The deceased person’s heirs, which are defined by statute or the person’s will, ultimately end up becoming to any award of damages received through a survival action. For example, suppose an individual is severely injured by an accident with a drunk driver, but dies a few months later of completely natural causes. In this case, the estate of the individual can pursue the damages to which the victim would have been entitled, if he or she had lived.

On the other hand, wrongful death claims are based on the injuries or damages that certain family members of the deceased sustain after the victim’s death. These damages might include emotional pain and suffering, loss of future earnings and income, loss of inheritance, and loss of care and companionship. Wrongful death suits, however, sometimes also involve certain survival actions. In the context of a wrongful death action, one category of damages sought might be the medical expenses and pain and suffering of the victim prior to his or her death.

Both wrongful death and survival actions, along with general personal injury actions, are subject to a statute of limitations. This means that you are limited to certain timeframes during which you can file these types of lawsuits. If you fail to meet these timeframes, then you may lose your opportunity to get compensation for your losses.

Depending on the facts of your situation, you may be entitled to compensation from those who negligently caused the accident, either through a personal injury claim, a survival action, or a wrongful death action. Call Boller & Vaughan today at (608) 268-0268, or contact us online to set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys, and see what we can do for you.