If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or malicious actions, you could seek compensation for the losses incurred by the decedent before their death. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2 allows this legal process, called a survival action, to occur. The executor of the decedent’s estate could use it to recover the costs associated with the deceased individual’s injuries caused by the at-fault party.
Survival actions are typically brought by the surviving family members of a deceased individual who was injured and later died of their injuries. Such actions incorporate damages the deceased could have brought in a personal injury claim, had they survived.
Since the decedent can no longer do so, their surviving heir or legal representative can still seek damages for the decedent’s injuries and death, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income.
A Survival Action Is Not the Same as a Wrongful Death Suit
Your attorney will often recommend a wrongful death claim when you lose a loved one due to another person’s actions. While wrongful death claims are similar to survival actions, they are not used for the same types of damages, and they must be filed differently. In addition, the disbursement of a settlement from a wrongful death suit is handled differently than a survival action settlement.
The decedent’s surviving dependents, usually family members, bring wrongful death lawsuits. When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you seek compensation for the losses you experience because of the death of your family member. Damages you can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of current and future income
- Loss of retirement savings, health insurance, and other employment benefits
- Loss of household assistance
- Loss of society
- Loss of companionship
Your wrongful death attorney can calculate these economic and non-economic damages to ensure you receive compensation for the loss of your loved one. Since a wrongful death lawsuit is brought on behalf of the surviving members of the decedent’s family, the settlement is distributed to the survivors directly.
On the other hand, a survival action is meant to recover expenses the family incurred by the decedent’s injuries and death. Since these expenses are collected on behalf of the deceased individual, they are considered a part of the decedent’s estate and are dispersed according to O.C.G.A. Title 53, Ch. 2, Art. 3.
Damages you could seek via a survival action include:
- Hospital bills and other medical costs associated with the cause of death
- Lost wages for the period of injury or illness before the decedent’s death
- Pain and suffering of the decedent before their death
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Funeral and burial expenses
Unlike wrongful death settlements, the funds recovered in a survival action are considered a part of the estate. Thus, these funds are subject to inheritance tax upon disbursement to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries.
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The Decedent’s Estate Representative Can File a Survival Action
Georgia law dictates that a survival action can only be brought by the legal representative of the deceased’s estate, since the settlement from a survival action is on behalf of the deceased. Usually, the court will appoint the representative for wills, trusts, and administration of estates.
How Your Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Survival Action
Survival actions and wrongful death claims often overlap, as they are both personal injury claims. Your personal injury attorney uses similar evidence and methodology working with both actions to:
- Establish who was fault for the decedent’s injury or illness
- Prove that the at-fault party had a duty of care to act responsibly
- Prove that the at-fault party violated that duty of care, and their breach of that duty resulted in the death of the decedent
- Prove that the decedent’s illness or injury and death resulted in both economic and non-economic losses for the decedent
- Determine the total value of losses incurred as a result of the at-fault party’s negligent or purposeful actions
Your attorney with experience handling wrongful death suits and survival actions can guide you through the complexities of Georgia law during this difficult time.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers Can Help With Your Survival Action
At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we understand that a settlement cannot fill the void left by a lost loved one. We can work to ensure you have the financial assistance to cover the expenses associated with your loss, so you can take the time you need to grieve.
Contact us today for a personal consultation to find out how we can help you with your survival action. Our lawyers will analyze your case and help you take the necessary steps to recover financially from your losses. This might involve filing a survival action or suing for wrongful death.