When an individual is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in California, they have the right to seek compensation for the financial and psychological harm that they incurred from their injuries through the state’s personal injury claims process. However, what happens to a personal injury case if the injured party dies during the process? Does this mean the case is over?
As it turns out, when someone dies while recovering damages due to a personal injury, their estate can seek a claim through what is known as a survival action. Additionally, family members of the deceased can also seek compensation for the expenses and impacts they incurred as a result of their loss through a wrongful death claim. An experienced wrongful death lawyer from Setareh Law can help you understand these two important legal actions and to determine the best way to proceed with the claim.
What Is a Survival Action?
In California, when a person suffers injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence, they can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for expenses such as the cost of medical treatment, pain and suffering, and wage loss. However, if the injury proves to be fatal and the claimant dies before there is a resolution to their claim, California law allows a personal representative (executor) of the deceased’s estate to take the place of the plaintiff in the claim.
If the plaintiff died without naming an executor, a successor in interest can file the claim. A successor in interest is generally an heir with rights to the property of the decedent upon death, such as a spouse or child of the decedent.
A survival action allows for the recovery of the damages that were available to the plaintiff before they died. In California, punitive damages can also be sought through a survival action.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
While a survival action is undertaken for the purpose of gaining compensation that was due to the claimant as a result of their injuries before death, a wrongful death claim allows the family members of the decedent to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts they incurred as a result of their loved one’s untimely passing. The type of expenses and impacts that can be compensated through a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical expenses
- The costs of funeral services and burial or cremation
- The loss of financial support
- The loss of gifts and inheritance
- The loss of love, companionship, care, comfort, society, consortium, and guidance
In most cases, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the deceased’s death.
The Services a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Provide
The process of seeking compensation for harm through a survival action or a wrongful death claim is typically an overwhelming experience for those who are not educated in personal injury law. An attorney plays a crucial role in handling this type of claim in order to help the family members of the deceased to obtain the compensation they need for their loved one’s losses as well as their own. Some of the services a wrongful death attorney can provide include:
- A free case evaluation
- A determination of all sources of liability
- Gathering available evidence that helps prove liability and justifies the claim’s value
- Filing the claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider and handling all communication with the insurance company in order to negotiate a settlement
- Filing a lawsuit in court if necessary
- Participating in the pre-trial process and presenting the case in court
- Assisting the claimant in receiving the compensation that is awarded to them through a negotiated settlement or a court verdict.
Our team at Setareh Law can ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way throughout the legal process.
If You Lost Your Loved One Due to Someone’s Negligence, Contact Setareh Law
Having a loved one suffer serious injuries is an unspeakably difficult scenario that only becomes more difficult if they ultimately die from their injuries before anyone is held accountable for the negligence that caused the accident. The legal team at Setareh Law understands the devastating consequences that occur when an important family member is lost. We have many years of experience helping families get the compensation they need through the wrongful death claims process and survival actions. Our team also speaks Spanish.