Understanding the Fundamentals of a Survival Action | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

It is never easy losing a loved one, but when that loss is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, that loss can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. The laws in the state of North Carolina allow family members or representatives of the victim to pursue legal claims against those responsible for the death for the losses and damages suffered. This can be done by a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action.

There are also situations when a person who has a personal injury claim passes away due to an unrelated illness or injury. People sometimes think the death wipes out the personal injury claim, but that is not the case. The personal injury claim then becomes a survival action.


Difference between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Survival Action

A wrongful death claim is filed by the family of the victim. The damages that family members can pursue against the at-fault party include the grief and other emotional suffering the victim’s death has caused the family, the current and future loss of income the family will suffer from the victim’s death, and funeral and burial expenses. A wrongful death claim can be filed by the victim’s spouse, children, parents, or any other legally recognized financial dependents of the victim.

In a survival action, the damages that are pursued are the same damages the victim could have pursued had they survived. This type of legal action basically delivers financial compensation to cover the period of time between the injury and the death of the victim.

A survival action is filed by the estate of the victim (through a representative) and any damages recovered are distributed to the survivors of the victim. A representative is appointed by the court to serve as the representative of the estate of the deceased person.  The representative “steps into the shoes” of the deceased individual and proceeds with the personal injury with all of the rights and claims the deceased individual had at the time of death.

These damages can include all of the medical expenses incurred treating the victim, loss of income and benefits, pain and suffering the victim endured before they died, and loss of quality of life.

Contact a Carolinas Injury Attorney

Our North Carolina personal injury firm has successfully represented many victims and their families and we are available to meet and discuss the circumstances of your case and how we may be able to help.  We also offer a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as personal representative.