Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action – What’s the Difference?
The death of a loved one can trigger many feelings, including anger, grief and confusion. On top of that, you may want justice for the one you lost or for the pain and suffering your family has experienced.
Florida law allows people who have lost loved ones to receive compensation from the responsible party. Whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action depends on the party making the claim.
Learn more about the difference between survival action and wrongful death and what you can do to get compensation for pain and suffering.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death and Survival Action?
The main difference between a wrongful death vs survival action claim is the party that benefits from the claim.
Wrongful death claims compensate the family members of the deceased. Survival actions provide compensation that the individual would have received had they not died.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a lawsuit or claim brought about when a person dies as a result of the negligence or bad behavior of another party. The lawsuit compensates the family of the deceased for their suffering, lost wages or funeral costs.
There are several instances when a wrongful death suit may be appropriate, including:
- After a car accident
- Following medical malpractice
- After a workplace accident
- After murder or manslaughter
Wrongful death is a civil action. In the case of criminal activity, such as murder or manslaughter, a wrongful death suit typically follows the criminal case.
Families typically need several factors for a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed:
- Proof that the defending party caused the other person's death.
- Proof that the family suffered financial harm due to the death
- Proof that the conduct of the defending party led to financial damages.
What Is a Survival Action?
Like a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action is also filed after a person's death. However, the parties that benefit from a survival action aren't the same as the parties that benefit from a wrongful death suit.
Typically, a survival action is a continuation of a lawsuit that began before a person died.
For example, an individual was injured in a car accident. They brought a suit against the driver of the other vehicle. However, before the conclusion of the lawsuit, the individual died for an unrelated reason.
The individual's estate can decide to continue with the lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages the individual suffered. Any reward received from a survival action doesn't directly benefit the family itself. Instead, the compensation is meant to award the deceased for any pain or suffering they experienced.
Can You File a Wrongful Death and Survival Action?
Whether you can file a wrongful death suit and a survival action at the same time depends on the circumstances.
In Florida, you can't file both a survival action and a wrongful death suit for the same injury.
For example, if your loved one was severely injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, they could bring a suit against that driver. If they later died from their injuries, the surviving parties have the choice of pursuing wrongful death or continuing the original lawsuit as a survival action.
But, if your loved one was severely injured in an accident with a drunk driver, and brought a lawsuit against that individual, then died for another reason, you may be able to bring both a survival action and a wrongful death lawsuit.
For instance, your loved one survived a car accident and sued the driver. Your loved one was later the victim of a murder, while their car accident lawsuit was ongoing.
You can decide to continue a survival action against the driver. Your family can decide to pursue a wrongful death suit against the party responsible for your loved one's death, too.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?
The time period for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit may be limited. Under Florida law, you usually have up to two years after the person's death to bring a lawsuit.
There are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations, though. If the person died as a result of murder or manslaughter, you can bring a lawsuit at any time. You don't have to wait for the person to be charged with murder or manslaughter to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
How to Get a Successful Wrongful Death Claim
You need three things to get a successful wrongful death claim.
- You first need to prove that the party bears responsibility for your loved one's death.
- You also need to prove that you've suffered damages and the other party is responsible for those damages.
How you go about proving that the defending party caused your loved one's death depends on the circumstances of their death. If they died as a result of a gunshot wound, you need to prove that the defendant fired the gun or had some connection to the gun.
If your loved one died in a car accident, you need proof that the defendant was driving recklessly.
The party's connection to your loved one's death can be easier to prove in some cases than in others.
- You also need evidence that you've suffered damages due to the death of your loved one. The damages can be tangible or intangible.
For example, if your loved one provided you with financial support, you may have lost that support after their death. You may also have had to pay for their medical bills and funeral costs.
The damages you suffered can also be intangible, such as pain and suffering. Proving intangible damages can be more complicated, as you'll need to assign a financial value to them. A wrongful death attorney can help you determine the monetary value of your pain and suffering.
Finally, you need to demonstrate a connection between the damages you've suffered and the defendant's conduct. Often, the line connecting the defendant's behavior and your loved one's death can be easy to trace. In some cases, it can be trickier to prove that the defendant's actions caused your financial damages.
Looking for a Wrongful Death Attorney in Miami?
If you've lost someone due to the negligence or criminal activity of another person, you may be entitled to damages.
If your loved one was in the midst of a lawsuit when they died, their estate may continue to the suit after their death.
Hannon Legal Group specializes in wrongful death, personal injury and medical malpractice. We can help you determine which type of lawsuit is most appropriate and will work to hold the relevant parties responsible for their actions.
Fill out our contact form below to discuss your options today!