man holding flowers while looking at a grave

What is Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

What is a Survival Action?

A survival action—rather than centering around the grief and financial losses of the family—centers around the suffering of the deceased person. This means that the estate of the decedent can recover damages that specifically relate to the victim’s pain and suffering, along with the victim’s medical bills and lost earnings. In other words, the survival action mimics what the deceased person could have recovered in a personal injury lawsuit, had he or she survived. The damages in a survival action must go through the estate of the decedent, rather than being distributed directly to family members. If you believe a survival action claim is warranted, the Finn Law Firm has the experience and skills necessary to guide you through the process.

 What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

Most people are familiar with the idea of a wrongful death claim which occurs when a person dies as a result of an injury caused by the negligence of another person. Fewer people are likely to know about survival actions. While both survival actions and wrongful deaths are strictly governed under Illinois state law, and while both occur after the death of a loved one, there are differences between wrongful death laws and survival action laws. A wrongful death gives the estate of the decedent the right to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family members. A survival action also gives the estate of the decedent the right to bring a claim on behalf of the estate.

While a wrongful death claim awards damages for loved ones who have suffered financially and emotionally from the decedent’s death, a survival action awards damages the decedent could have recovered if he or she had not died. In other words, if the decedent was hit by a negligent driver and severely injured, if he or she had lived, a personal injury claim would likely have been filed, with medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages awarded. Because the injured person did not survive, a survival action asks for those same damages, with the difference being the damages are awarded to the decedent’s estate.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In the state of Illinois, a wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative is generally a close relative of the deceased, such as a spouse, a parent, or an adult child. If the decedent failed to appoint a personal representative prior to his or her death, the court may appoint a personal representative. The personal representative is responsible for pursuing the wrongful death claim. Funeral expenses and similar damages are paid directly to the estate if the wrongful death claim is successful, while the spouse and children will receive the damages directly for losses related to the death of their loved one.

 Who Can File a Survival Action?

A survival action also seeks monetary compensation for any damages suffered by the decedent prior to his or her death. These are damages that were incurred during the time period following the accident, rather while the victim was still alive. Damages like medical expenses, disability, lost wages, and pain and suffering may be awarded in an Illinois survival action, but the damages will be paid directly to the decedent’s estate rather than directly to the next of kin.

 How Can the Finn Law Firm Help in a Wrongful Death or Survival Action Claim?

Since both wrongful death claims and survival action claims can be complex, with the statutes of limitations being subject to exceptions, it is important to consult with an attorney from the Finn Law Firm as quickly as possible after the death of a loved one. Any time another’s negligence results in a fatality, the injury victims are entitled to compensation for their losses. Contact the Finn Law Firm to have all your questions regarding wrongful death and survival action answered. We offer high-quality, highly experienced legal representation at a time when you need it most.


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