You may have come across the terms ‘wrongful death’ or ‘personal injury’ if you were recently injured in an accident or lost a loved to an accident due to the negligence or carelessness of another. However, understanding the manner in which these legal terms may potentially relate to your unique situation is important.

In general, wrongful death claims are filed for fatal injuries by the surviving family members of the deceased person, whereas personal injury lawsuits are filed by the injured victim for non-fatal injuries. However, the two legal concepts have more distinctions and similarities that you must know.

Difference Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims

Both personal injury and wrongful death claims are based on negligence. However, in a wrongful death claim the injury is sustained by the decedent’s estate since the victim has already died. In a personal injury lawsuit, compensation is sought for the bodily injury sustained by the victim.

You have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit when you suffer losses or injuries because of someone else’s negligence. Personal injury compensation includes lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering. Conversely, the family of the deceased victim has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if a person dies because of their personal injuries arising from the negligent actions of another.

The family of a victim filing a wrongful death claim may have the legal right to obtain compensation for medical bills arising due to the fatal injury, funeral expenses, loss of wages, loss of consortium, property damage, pain and suffering (of the victim), and loss of companionship.

Similarities in Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims

Wrongful death and personal injury claims have a number of similarities. The most notable one is that they both fall under the purview of the tort law. The plaintiff, in both personal injury and wrongful death claims, has the burden to prove a duty of care was owed by the defendant, the duty of care was breached, and the injury sustained was as a result of the breach.

Both wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury claims can apply to the same type of accidents. These are a few of the common ones:

  • Auto accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall

Distinction in the Statute of Limitations

A particularly important difference between wrongful death lawsuit and personal injury lawsuit is in the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims and wrongful death claims is two years in most states, including Virginia. However, statute of limitations for most types of personal injury lawsuits in North Carolina is three years.

There is different statute of limitations for different types of accidents and injuries. It is important to note that the standard time limit for filing a personal injury commences from when the accident occurred. However, in case of a wrongful death claim, the clock starts ticking from the date the victim died.

It is important to have a good grasp of the statute of limitations. Missing this deadline may result in you losing the right to file a claim. To be clear, if an injured person survives for several weeks, months or years with serious injuries, but later succumbs to those injuries, then the statute of limitations would commence from the date of death. This holds even if the injured person survives for more than two years but later succumbs to the injuries caused during the accident.

Filing a Lawsuit: Personal Injury vs. Wrongful Death

Personal injury claim can be filed by anyone that suffered an injury because of the negligent, reckless or careless actions of another. This is a civil action for obtaining compensation for losses and injuries. However, in case a person dies because of their injuries from an accident that was caused due to the negligence of someone else’s, the victim’s family members have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim.

Typically, children, spouses, parents, and siblings of the victim file a wrongful death claim. In case there is no one to file a wrongful death claim, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem for prosecuting the negligent party. You should know that wrongful death claims are again civil actions and different from criminal prosecutions.

There are several complexities that are involved in wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury claims. You should consider seeking the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward with your claim.

Reach Out to a Skilled Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Attorney Today

You may have the right to file a claim if you suffered injuries or had a loved one die because of someone else’s actions. The capable attorneys at the law offices of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have years of experience in helping victims obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve. We can explain your legal options during a free, confidential and no-obligation consultation. Schedule your free and confidential consultation with us today. Call us at (833) 997-1774 or write to us online.