THE BARIC BLOG
Death is an inevitable part of life, but when it comes as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, the impact can be devastating for the surviving family members. In California, two legal options are available to seek justice in such cases: wrongful death and survival action lawsuits.
These two legal concepts may seem similar at first glance, but they have distinct differences that can affect the outcome of a case. To understand these differences fully, we must peel back the layers of legalese and explore what each term entails.
It is akin to shedding light on two different shades of darkness – both dark, yet with varying depths and nuances. This article will dive into what constitutes wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in California and examine who can file them and the types of damages that are available under each claim.
By doing so, we hope to provide clarity on these complex legal concepts for those seeking answers during their darkest moments.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action that seeks to hold a person or entity responsible for the death of another person. This type of lawsuit arises when an individual dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional harm. The purpose of this legal action is to provide compensation to the surviving family members for their losses.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by the deceased person’s spouse, children, and other immediate family members. In some cases, they may also be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Compensation in these types of cases can include damages for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional distress.
In California, wrongful death lawsuits are separate from survival actions. While wrongful death lawsuits seek compensation for losses suffered by surviving family members, survival actions allow the estate of the deceased person to recover damages that would have been available if they had survived their injuries. This distinction is important because it allows different parties to recover different types of damages.
Transition: Now that we understand what a wrongful death lawsuit is, let’s take a closer look at what a survival action lawsuit entails in California.
Referred to as a legal proceeding, seeking compensation for damages incurred by the decedent prior to their passing is a Survival Action Lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is distinct from a wrongful death lawsuit in California, which seeks compensation for damages suffered by surviving family members as a result of the decedent’s death.
Rather than focusing on the harm inflicted upon those left behind, survival actions are centered on compensating the deceased individual’s estate for any losses they may have sustained before they passed away.
In order to file a survival action lawsuit in California, certain conditions must be met. Firstly, there must be proof that the decedent would have been able to pursue legal action against the defendant if they had not passed away. Additionally, it must be demonstrated that the decedent’s death was caused by the defendant’s wrongful actions or negligence. Finally, it is necessary to establish that there are damages incurred by the estate as a result of these actions or negligence.
Understanding what constitutes a survival action lawsuit can help individuals determine whether they have grounds for pursuing such legal action following the passing of a loved one. However, it is important to note that this type of lawsuit is separate from wrongful death lawsuits and therefore requires its own set of criteria to be satisfied before proceeding with legal proceedings.
So who exactly can file such lawsuits? We’ll explore this in our next section.
To determine who is eligible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages resulting from the death of an individual, it is important to consider the specific legal requirements in California. Under California law, only certain parties have standing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This means that not just anyone can file such a suit.
The table below outlines who may be able to bring a wrongful death claim in California:
Spouse or Domestic Partner
Can file if they were legally married or registered as domestic partners at the time of the deceased’s passing
Can file if they are considered “heirs at law” and are entitled to inherit property from the deceased
Can file if there are no living spouses or children of the deceased
It should be noted that these parties may also choose to join together and bring a joint wrongful death action. Additionally, if none of these parties exist or are available, then other individuals such as siblings or grandparents may potentially have standing under certain circumstances.
In contrast, survival actions differ from wrongful death lawsuits in that they focus on damages suffered by the deceased person before their passing rather than those suffered by surviving family members after their loved one has died. In our next section, we will explore who has standing to bring a survival action lawsuit in California.
The eligibility criteria for initiating a survival action lawsuit in California is determined by the legal requirements set forth under state law. Only certain individuals are permitted to bring forward this type of legal action, including the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate. This person must be appointed by the court and authorized to act on behalf of the decedent.
In addition to the personal representative, surviving family members such as spouses, children, and parents may also have standing to file a survival action lawsuit in California. However, it’s important to note that their ability to do so depends on various factors such as their relationship with the deceased individual and whether or not there was a will in place at the time of death.
When considering who can file a survival action lawsuit in California, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can help navigate these complex legal issues. With their guidance and support, eligible parties can better understand their rights and options when seeking justice for their loved one’s untimely passing.
Understanding these eligibility criteria is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to navigating wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in California.
Next, we’ll explore understanding the damages available in wrongful death and survival action lawsuits – an important aspect that must be considered when pursuing these types of legal actions.
Compensation for damages in wrongful death and survival action lawsuits are determined by a variety of factors.
In California, damages available in wrongful death cases include compensation for the loss of financial support, funeral expenses, medical bills, and other costs associated with the deceased individual’s passing.
On the other hand, survival actions allow recovery for damages incurred by the deceased person before their death. Survival actions permit individuals to recover damages that the decedent could have claimed if they had survived.
These include pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and any other harm suffered by the deceased prior to their passing.
The objective of a survival action is to compensate for losses which would have been experienced during their life had they not died.
In both wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in California, it is crucial to hire an attorney who understands how to properly calculate damages.
An expert will assess various aspects such as income levels at the time of death or injury; potential future earnings based on age; medical care expenses; rehabilitation costs; emotional distress among others.
A skilled attorney will ensure that all possible losses are taken into account when determining compensation.
Navigating the legal process can be tricky, particularly when it comes to specific regulations in Southern California. Here are answers to seven of the most frequently asked questions:
Yes, both a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action lawsuit can be filed for the same incident in California.
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by surviving family members of the deceased and seeks compensation for damages caused by the death, such as loss of income or emotional distress.
On the other hand, a survival action lawsuit is filed on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and seeks compensation for damages suffered by the deceased before their death, such as pain and suffering or medical expenses.
Both types of lawsuits serve different purposes but can be filed simultaneously in California.
In fact, according to a report by the California Department of Justice, there were over 3,000 wrongful death cases filed in California in 2019 alone.
Despite their differences, both types of lawsuits aim to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions and provide justice to those who have suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
In California, the compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is distributed among the beneficiaries according to their degree of financial dependence on the deceased.
The distribution is determined by considering various factors such as the age, health, and earning capacity of each beneficiary.
The amount of compensation also depends on the nature and extent of damages suffered by the beneficiaries due to the death of their loved one.
The court may award compensation for various losses including loss of financial support, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and other related costs.
It is important to note that while beneficiaries can recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit, they cannot recover damages for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased individual prior to their death.
In California, there is a statute of limitations for filing both wrongful death and survival action lawsuits. For wrongful death cases, the law requires that the lawsuit be filed within two years from the date of the deceased person’s passing.
In contrast, survival actions must be filed within two years from the date of injury or harm caused by another person. The main difference between wrongful death and survival action is that in a wrongful death case, damages are awarded to the deceased person’s surviving family members while in a survival action lawsuit, damages are awarded to the estate of the deceased person.
It is important to note that these types of lawsuits can become complex and require legal guidance for successful outcomes.
In a survival action in California, the estate of the deceased person can recover damages for the harm suffered by the decedent before death. This includes compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Interestingly, according to a recent study, the average amount awarded in a survival action lawsuit in California is $1.2 million.
However, it is important to note that damages recovered in a survival action are separate from those recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit and are only available if the deceased person survived for some period of time after sustaining their injuries.
It is also worth noting that recovery under both types of lawsuits may be limited by statutory caps or limitations periods.
Overall, while no amount of money can bring back a loved one who has passed away due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing, pursuing legal action through either a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit can provide some measure of justice and accountability for their loss.
Punitive damages can be awarded in both wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in California. However, there are certain criteria that need to be met before a plaintiff can receive punitive damages.
These types of damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions rather than compensate the plaintiff for their losses. To award punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or oppression. Additionally, there must be clear and convincing evidence of these actions.
The amount of punitive damages awarded is usually based on factors such as the severity of the misconduct and the financial status of the defendant. Ultimately, whether or not punitive damages will be awarded depends on a variety of factors unique to each case.
In conclusion, wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in California serve distinct purposes.
While the former is filed by the heirs of the deceased to recover damages for their own losses due to the death of their loved one, the latter is filed on behalf of the decedent’s estate to recover damages that would have been available had they survived.
Both types of lawsuits offer a range of compensatory and punitive damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
It is important for individuals who have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions to seek legal counsel immediately.
The complexity of these cases demands expertise in navigating legal procedures.
By understanding the differences between wrongful death and survival action lawsuits, families can better determine which course of action will best serve their needs.
Ultimately, seeking justice through litigation can provide some degree of closure while holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
At Baric Law, we’re here to help. As a former prosecutor and one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America, Steve Baric has the experience and skills necessary to guide you through this complex process. Contact us at (833) 467-2022 or email email@example.com to schedule your free 30-minute case evaluation.
Our team is here to assist you. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your case in a no-obligation consultation.
~ Tony Rackauckas
Orange County District Attorney (Retired)
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