Wrongful Death vs. Survivorship Claims

California Injury Lawyer
Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death lawsuit is one where one person responsible for causing the death of another person, lacks any lawful excuse for the same. Under the California state law, wrongful death is seen as a fatality resulting from “the wrongful act or neglect of another”.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Some states have laws allowing close family members, or heirs, of the deceased to legally acquire compensation, for losses that they suffered from the death under consideration. Filing a proper lawsuit in court allows them to pursue compensation from the defendant, as long as the latter is proven to be responsible for the fatality. With a competent California injury lawyer handling the case, the chances of obtaining this become much greater.

Some states also allow suing the defendant’s insurance company, while in others, the defendant is legally obligated to notify their insurer of the claim leveled against them. Wrongful death lawsuits fall under the civil action category, and are different from criminal prosecution for manslaughter or homicide. In each of the latter cases, the government brings the lawsuit upon the wrongdoer.

Being a civil action, a wrongful death case does not allow seeking punishment or imprisonment; only monetary damages can be acquired, and that too, only if a charge of neglect or deliberate intent is proven.

Survivorship Claims

Instead of awarding compensation for losses from another person’s death, survivorship claims are a way for the estate of the deceased to acquire compensation for losses suffered by the deceased, before their passing. Said losses need to be a proven result of negligent or wrongful conduct on the defendant’s side.

Damages that the plaintiff can pursue include medical expenses, ambulance fees, loss of earning while being hospitalized, etc. California does not allow seeking damages for pain and suffering incurred by the deceased within a survivorship lawsuit, but does allow pursuing compensation for losses resulting from neglect or abuse in a dependent care facility.

Damages recovered by the estate’s personal representative from a survivorship claim, are thenceforth the property of that estate. These damages are distributed among the heirs of the deceased, either according to the latter’s will, or absent that, stipulations or guidelines provided by the state law.

Expenses incurred by the estate due to or following the death, including expenses for burial and funeral, are normally required to be clumped with the wrongful death claim. Despite this and the survivorship claim being distinct in the legal sense, they are usually covered under the same lawsuit.

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