Wrongful death and survivorship claims arise when a person is severely injured and loses his or her life due to the negligence of another person and/or entity. These claims are separate and distinct, and the damages recoverable in the two actions also differ in certain respects.
A survival action belongs to the deceased person and his or her estate after the person’s death. A survivorship claim is personal to the deceased person and it must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The claim allows for the recovery of all damages the deceased person would have suffered had he or she continued to live in the absence of the accident that resulted in his or her death. In order to recover damages in a survivorship claim, one must prove that the deceased person lived an “appreciable length of time” after the accident or injury that caused his or her death. Medical evidence, such as the opinion of a doctor and/or coroner, is typically required to prove this initial element of a survivorship claim. Monetary damages available to decedent’s estate include compensation for the deceased person’s medical and funeral expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings from the time of injury to death, and the value of the decedent’s expected earnings during his or her life expectancy.
A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, belongs to the heirs of the deceased person. Heirs typically include those persons who would inherit from the decedent’s estate, such as surviving spouses and children. In some instances, it may include a parent or sibling. A wrongful death claim is intended to compensate those heirs for the harm and damages they have personally suffered as result of the death of their loved one. The damages that may be recovered in such an action include loss of consortium, loss of comfort and society provided by the deceased, and the reasonable value of monetary contributions the decedent would have provided for the support, education, training, and care of his or her heirs during the life of the decedent and the surviving heirs.
Losing a husband, wife, father, or mother is one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s life. If you’ve recently lost a close family member due to the negligence of another, do not hesitate to call Carey Law Firm’s attorneys for a free consultation regarding a potential wrongful death or survivorship claim. Our Montana attorneys have decades of experience in prosecuting these claims. If you have a viable claim, we will advocate for your rights and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve.