A family has the right to compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. However, the injured person might not die immediately from their injuries and could incur personal medical expenses and property losses before death.
To cover these damages, a survival action is necessary in addition to a wrongful death suit.
The purpose of survival action
A survival action basically covers expenses that the deceased would have filed for in a personal injury suit had the person survived the accident. Some states wrap these damages into a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, the family must file a separate survival action suit to recover this compensation.
As with a wrongful death, the claimant only has two years to submit a survival action claim. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate handles this on behalf of the beneficiaries. Usually, this person will be the nearest living relative. Also, the survival action can start while the person is still alive if death seems imminent.
Types of recoverable damages
Wrongful death damages pertain to losses that the family suffers. This includes the loss of the deceased’s income, benefits, retirement distributions and assistance in the household. It also addresses noneconomic emotional considerations, such as the loss of companionship and guidance.
On the other hand, the survival action encompasses the expenses due to the decedent’s injury and death that generally pass on to that person’s estate. Such costs include:
- Payments for medical treatments and associated bills
- Lost wages during the illness
- The pain and suffering of the deceased before expiring
- Funeral and burial costs
As these are part of the estate, they are subject to inheritance tax. While there are no caps on economic damages, there are noneconomic damage caps for medical malpractice suits and limits for punitive damages.
The death of a loved one brings emotional and economic costs that merit compensation. By properly filing a survival action alongside a wrongful death claim, the family has a better chance of fully covering damages.