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What are Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims?

Two people were recently killed in an early morning truck accident in El Monte. The crash occurred when a semi-truck rear-ended a BMW on an overpass around 4:30 AM. Upon impact, the truck fell off the freeway and burst into flames when it hit the ground. Neither driver survived the crash.

Survival Actions Following a Fatal El Monte Accident

The right to recover compensation doesn’t go away just because a victim dies in an El Monte accident. The personal representative for the victim’s estate may have the right to file a survival claim. A survival claim is essentially a way to recover damages and compensation that the victim would have been entitled to receive had he survived.

When Does the Right to File a Survival Action Exist?

Survival actions can only be filed if a victim did not die immediately. There must have been some lapse in time between the accident and death. That lapse of time could be as short as a few minutes, or as long as a few weeks.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Survival Action?

California law explains a survival action may seek to recover “the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.”

In other words, a survival action can seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Anticipated gifts
  • Lost wages, or
  • Property damage.

If the victim would have been entitled to an award of punitive damages, those can also be sought through a survival action.

When Do Survival Actions Have to Be Filed?

Survival actions must be filed by a personal representative within 6 months of a victim’s death, or two years from the date of the initial injury, whichever is first. Actions not filed within the applicable statute of limitations will not be valid.

Family Members May Consider Wrongful Death Actions

Family members grieving the loss of their loved one may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Bringing a wrongful death claim can allow family members to recover compensation for harms they directly experience as a result of their unexpected loss.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In California, the following family members may be permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal accident:

  • Spouses
  • Children, and
  • Parents.

Other relatives or individuals who are able to demonstrate a financial dependence on the victim may also be able to file a wrongful death claim.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action?

Survival actions help estates recover damages that a victim would have been able to receive had they survived. Wrongful death actions, on the other hand, help family members and dependents recover compensation for injuries and harm they experience because of their unexpected loss.

Family members filing a wrongful death action can seek compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses, including costs for lodging and travel
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of the value of household services
  • Loss of companionship, assistance, affection, and comfort
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of anticipated gifts, and
  • Loss of guidance and training.

Punitive damages are not available in El Monte wrongful death actions.

When Do Wrongful Death Claims Have to Be Filed?

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years from the date of the victim’s death. Family and dependents will not be able to recover compensation if the claim is not filed before the statute of limitations expires.

Do you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer? Contact Glotzer & Leib, LLP to schedule a free consultation with our skilled legal team. Our goal is to help you recover the money you deserve after an accident.

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