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What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

Posted on July 13, 2021 in

You may know that your family has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit after the preventable death of a loved one in Arizona. Many families, however, are unaware of the right to bring a survival action, as well. These are two different types of civil claims that can result in different types of financial compensation. For more information about your legal rights after the tragic loss of a family member, contact a Scottsdale wrongful death attorney.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a civil action that seeks to pay the deceased person’s beneficiaries (typically, surviving loved ones) for their losses. A successful wrongful death lawsuit reimburses those who suffered due to the decedent’s death with a financial settlement or judgment award. The damages – or financial compensation – available via a wrongful death action in Arizona can include:

  • Funeral and burial costs (up to a reasonable maximum)
  • Medical bills for the decedent’s final injury or illness
  • The value of the lost wages and employment benefits that the decedent would have earned throughout the rest of his or her lifetime
  • Lost gifts or inheritance the decedent would have given loved ones
  • The loss of the decedent’s love, guidance, comfort, society and companionship
  • The loss of household services performed by the decedent
  • The family’s emotional pain, suffering and anguish

There is currently no cap on the damages available for a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona. The purpose of wrongful death compensation is to make up for a family’s loss of economic and noneconomic support related to the death of a loved one. These benefits will either go to surviving beneficiaries based on the decedent’s will or the rules of intestate succession or to the deceased person’s estate.

What Is a Survival Action?

A wrongful death claim in Arizona must follow the state’s related laws and procedures. For example, only a deceased individual’s surviving spouse, child, parent, guardian or personal representative may file a wrongful death claim. A survival action follows different rules. Although similar to a wrongful death claim, a survival action is filed to seek financial compensation for the victim’s losses rather than the losses of surviving family members. These losses can include:

  • The decedent’s pain and suffering
  • The cost to repair or replace any property damaged in the incident
  • Lost earnings until the date of death
  • Pre-death medical expenses

A survival action is similar to a personal injury lawsuit that the decedent would have been able to file for his or her losses had the victim survived. It can compensate a decedent’s estate or beneficiaries for the tangible and intangible losses suffered by the decedent between the date of the injurious event and the date of death.

Can You File Both Types of Claims?

Yes, a family or personal representative of the estate may file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action after a preventable death in the state of Arizona. Surviving loved ones or the estate may recover financial compensation through both types of legal claims. If you wish to file both types of lawsuits, it is important to work with an attorney, as the legal process can be complicated.

For instance, different deadlines (statutes of limitations) apply to each type of case. In Arizona, the deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the victim’s death, with some exceptions. The deadline to file a survival action, on the other hand, is either six months from the decedent’s death or two years from the date that the fatal injury or illness occurred, whichever is later.

Do You Need an Attorney to Represent You?

A qualified wrongful death lawyer in Arizona can help you navigate all of the legal legwork of a wrongful death claim and/or a survival action. A lawyer will share your family’s goals for both types of cases, help you work to achieve closure and justice, and make sure you and your family have everything you need during this difficult time. Contact an attorney today for more information.