The Difference Between Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Survivorship Actions


Losing a family member or loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent actions can be a devastating and overwhelming ordeal. Close family members are commonly left with not just anguish and suffering, but also grave financial difficulties.

When a loved one dies, more often than not, the family loses a fundamental source of income, they have numerous unpaid medical bills and have to bear costly funeral expenses. In the aftermath of such a tragic loss, families wonder what their legal options are. Under Virginia law, the two available options are wrongful death claims and survivorship actions. Both options offer a way for families to receive compensation from the person liable for the decedent’s death.

In both wrongful death cases and survival actions, the plaintiffs must show that the defendant was liable for the decedent’s death. In other words, this entails proving that the death was caused by an act of carelessness, negligence, or recklessness by another party that had a duty of care to the decedent. In Virginia, plaintiffs cannot file both a wrongful death claim and survivorship action, they must choose only one.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims revolve around the decedent’s family and permits close family members to pursue a claim for damages. Damages commonly include both past and future wages lost, pain and suffering, unresolved medical bills and burial costs. Typically, wrongful death claims are filed by the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents (if the decedent is not married), or other financial dependents.

What Does a Survivorship Action Entail?

Survivorship actions revolve around the suffering of the decedent, as opposed to the family’s monetary losses and suffering. The victims’ estate can recover damages for the pain and suffering of the decedent as well as their medical expenses and lost wages.

The damages are comparable to what the decedent may have been able to recover through a personal injury claim if he or she had not died. The compensation received is distributed by means of the decedent’s estate instead of being given directly to living family members. Usually, the executor of the decedent’s estate files the survival action.

Get Assistance from a Knowledgeable Wrongful Death and Survivorship Action Attorney

If you have lost a close family member and/or loved one because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, although nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death lawsuit or survivorship action can at least help hold the negligent party accountable. Additionally, your family may be able to recover financial compensation for your losses.

Our Virginia Beach personal injury law firm can help you determine your next course of action.

Both wrongful death lawsuit and survivorship action can be extremely complex endeavors, which you should not have to go through alone. Scott. R. Barney, Esq., is an incredibly skilled, committed and tenacious attorney who is zealous about providing his clients with the best possible legal service.  We offer free preliminary consultations during which Scott. R. Barney, Esq., can discuss the circumstances of your case as well as all your legal options. To speak with an attorney contact us online or call (757) 296-8145 today. Our elite legal representation will help you gain the most out of your wrongful death lawsuit or survivorship action.

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