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What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?

The grief of losing somebody that you love can be overwhelming, and the last thing you are probably thinking about is legal action. However, family members and the estate of the deceased could pursue various legal actions to recover both closure and compensation. This includes a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action, both of which are filed in civil court.

What is a North Carolina Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims arise regularly in the state of North Carolina. When we examine NC law, we can see that these cases arise when a death is caused “by wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person, entity, or business (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021). So long as the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party had they lived, the personal representative of the estate will likely be able to file a claim for wrongful death.

Wrongful death claims are filed by personal representatives (executors) of the deceased’s estate on behalf of surviving family members. It is certainly possible for surviving family members, such as a spouse, parents, or adult children, to serve as personal representatives.

The estate and surviving family members may be able to recover a wide range of compensation as a result of a wrongful death claim in North Carolina. This includes:

  • Pain and suffering experienced by the family members as a result of the wrongful death
  • Current last income and future lost earnings or benefits the deceased would have provided had they lived
  • Coverage of the deceased’s services, protection, assistance, and care they can no longer provide
  • Loss of the deceased’s comfort, guidance, companionship, and society

What is a North Carolina Survival Action?

It can be very confusing to understand the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action in North Carolina. Survival actions are a little bit different in that they are filed by the estate of the deceased if there was a period of time between when the deceased sustained an injury and passed away as a result of these injuries.

The damages pursued through a survival action are the same types of damages the deceased would have been able to pursue if they had survived the incident and been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Some of the damages that could be awarded through a survival action in North Carolina include:

  • Medical expenses caused by the injury
  • Lost wages from the time the injury occurred to when the deceased passed
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased from when the injury occurred until the time they passed

Reviewing the Difference Between the Two

Both a survival action and a wrongful death claim in North Carolina arise in the same ways. When an individual loses their life as a result of the negligent or intentional actions of another, at-fault parties must be held accountable. Some of the most common causes of these claims arising include vehicle accidents, premises liability incidents, medical mistakes, defective product incidents, intentional acts of violence, and more.

We strongly encourage family members and personal representatives of the deceased to contact a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Raleigh as soon as possible. An attorney can step in and investigate every aspect of the claim to help the plaintiff recover maximum compensation and closure for what happened.