What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?


When someone dies and their family successfully sues the party responsible for the death, the family may recover compensation for the loss of their family member. There are two possible avenues for the family to collect money: Wrongful Death and Survival Action. They are not the same. Read on to learn the difference.

Wrongful Death

Under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, the family of the deceased may collect:

         Past Lost Contributions. This is the amount that the family has lost between the time of the death to the present. It includes the money the deceased family member would have spent on or given to his family for things like food, clothing, medical care, education, and even gifts and recreation.

         Future Loss of Contributions. This is the amount of money that fairly compensates the family for the loss of future gifts the deceased family member would have given. In other words, the contributions the deceased family member would make from today until the deceased family member would have died had there been no negligence. For instance, if the deceased family member had a life expectancy of 85 years, you would calculate how many years until she would have reached the age of 85 and you would be compensated for the loss of her contributions for that period of time.

         Past and Future Noneconomic Damages. When someone dies, they can no longer give their family their companionship, emotional comfort, sense of humor, etc. The family can be compensated for the profound emotional and psychological loss of their treasured family member.

Survival Action

Under the Pennsylvania Survival Action, the family member of the deceased person can collect:

         Past Lost Earnings. If there is a period of time that took place between the time of the negligent act and the time of the death, the family is entitled to be paid for the amount the deceased person would have earned in damages between those two events: negligence and death.

         Future Loss of Earnings. This amount covers how much the deceased family member would have earned from today to his life expectancy, as explained above.

         Past Noneconomic Damages. When someone is injured as the result of someone’s negligence, they don’t always die immediately. Sometimes, they could suffer briefly and sometimes they could suffer for a prolonged amount of time before they die. Whatever length that period is, it can be a category of damages. The family of the deceased person can recover money for the mental and physical pain, suffering, and loss of life’s pleasures from the moment she’s injured to the moment of her death.

It is often the case that the family is entitled to both Wrongful Death and Survival Action damages. It is up to your experienced wrongful death lawyer to plead these claims and ensure that you get the most compensation for your loss. To speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact VSCP Law.

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