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What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?

When a family member dies suddenly due to another person’s negligence, the rest of the family is not only grieving, but may be struggling financially. This can be due to the immediate expenses like medical bills and funeral costs, but can also stem from a major source of family income now missing. If you had a loved one pass away due to someone else’s negligence, you need to speak to a skilled Maryland personal injury attorney right away, as you may have a valid claim for wrongful death and a survivor’s action.

Here is what you need to know about the difference between wrongful death claims and survival actions.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim provides compensation for damages family members suffered due to their loved one’s untimely death. It can include pain and suffering, current and future loss of income, funeral expenses, and more. A wrongful death claim is typically brought forth by someone in the immediate family who is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Typically, this would be a spouse or child, but there are scenarios in which the representative might be a sibling or parent, as well.

The most common damages in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Medical care expenses and funeral costs
  • Loss of future earnings and benefits already owned or to be earned by deceased
  • Loss of consortium (spouse)

When it comes to calculating the damages, courts look at how the victim’s death affects the survivors, financially and emotionally. Each case is different; someone who was a stay-at-home parent would have a different calculation method than someone who was a wage earner.

What is a Survival Action?

With a survival action, the plaintiff in the case is actually the deceased. This is different than a wrongful death claim that is brought on behalf of a personal representative of the deceased. Survival actions are concerned with the pain and suffering of the person who died rather than the impact his or her death had on the family. If a person lived for a period of time after the accident, they would likely have accumulated medical bills and lost earnings. This is akin to what someone would seek as compensation in a standard personal injury lawsuit had they survived the accident.

Because the person lived for a period of time following the loss, the deceased’s pain and suffering would be calculated, as well. In Maryland, survival actions allow the estate’s representative to recover the damages to which the decedent was entitled. Funeral expenses, up to a certain amount, and non-economical and economic damages he or she sustained between the point of injury and when he or she passed away. To compare with wrongful death actions once more, wrongful death compensation is for the losses the family suffered due to the person’s death. Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages like pain and suffering. In wrongful death claims, the amount is increased when there are two or more beneficiaries, but it cannot exceed 150% of the statutory cap amount.

Retaining a Maryland Attorney

If a loved one was killed due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to speak with Maryland wrongful death attorney right away. Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation.