Accidents are unfortunately common, and many accidents are fatal. Accidents tend to be costly, and deceased individuals might be survived by their claims for damages.
In a survival action, the legal claims of the deceased person may survive their passing. A personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may bring the claims to court instead. This differs from wrongful death claims, where the damages and injuries experienced by family members of the deceased are the focus of the case. In a survival action, any damages awards are paid to the deceased person’s estate before being dispersed according to a will or probate laws. Common situations involving survival actions include fatal accidents where the victims did not succumb to their injuries right away. Usually, deceased individuals had some time to file their claims before passing away.
You can schedule an assessment of your potential claims for no cost with our Alabama wrongful death lawyers by calling Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.
How a Survival Action is Different From a Wrongful Death Claim in Alabama
Survival actions do not focus on the losses suffered by surviving family members. Instead, survival actions are about the injuries and damages experienced by the deceased person before they passed away. It is important to speak to an attorney about your potential survival action. Assessing damages is difficult since the person who experienced those damages is no longer here.
In a claim for wrongful death, the focus is on the losses experienced by family members. For example, family members often claim loss of financial support from their deceased loved one in addition to non-economic injuries like the loss of consortium or companionship. These damages are not involved in survival actions.
Survival actions are about the deceased individual, not their family. More specifically, this kind of case involves claims filed by the accident victim that they would have pursued had they survived. After they pass away, their legal claims survive and may continue with family members or an estate administrator.
Alabama is unique in how it handles survival actions compared to other states. While other states allow family members or personal representatives to bring survival actions for claims the deceased had not initiated themselves, Alabama only allows survival actions for legal claims the fatal accident victim already filed before their passing.
According to Ala. Code § 6-5-462, all claims that are not equitable (i.e., claims for monetary damages) may survive in favor of a personal representative if the action has already been filed. For example, if your loved one was injured in a car accident, filed a lawsuit for damages, and ultimately passed away from their injuries before completing the lawsuit, you might have a survival action. Certain kinds of claims might survive even if not filed when the complainant passes away, but you should talk to an attorney to be sure.
Who Benefits From Survival Actions in Alabama?
People filing legal actions often believe they will be the ones who benefit from an award for damages. While this is usually true, it is not necessarily the case in survival actions. Instead, damages are awarded directly to the deceased person’s estate rather than to family members.
You might be wondering why someone would bother with a survival action if they will not see any damages award for their efforts. While damages are paid to the deceased person’s estate, the estate, including the survival action damages, will be dispersed according to a will or probate laws.
Survival actions may be taken up by surviving spouses and children, often in conjunction with a wrongful death claim. The damages in the survival action are ultimately paid to family members when the deceased person’s will is executed. However, this might not always be the case. Many people leave their estates to non-family members or charitable organizations, and family members might not see any compensation in the end.
Possible Damages in Alabama Survival Actions
People sometimes have trouble wrapping their minds around survival action damages. Rather than their own losses, plaintiffs bring survival actions for their deceased loved one’s injuries and damages. These damages may vary depending on the cause of the death and the extent of the injuries.
Common damages in survival actions include medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and more. Generally, survival actions include damages typically awarded in claims for personal injury. Both economic and non-economic damages may be considered.
Common economic losses awarded in survival actions after fatal accidents include property damage, medical expenses, and lost income. The longer a person lives after the accident before ultimately succumbing to their injuries, the greater these damages will likely be. For example, many fatal accident victims pass away en route to the hospital, and few, if any, medical bills are assessed. However, if a person survives for a few days or longer, they might undergo extensive treatment and incur significant medical debt.
Non-economic damages may also be greater if the deceased person lived a bit longer after an accident. Since pain and suffering are so subjective and unrelated to money, our Alabama personal injury attorneys often assess these damages by the intensity of pain and duration of suffering. If your loved one survived for a few days or more, they likely endured more pain, and their non-economic damages may be greater.
Common Situations Involving Survival Actions in Alabama
As discussed above, many survival actions are related to fatal accidents in which the deceased person did not pass away immediately. Fatal accidents where the victim dies on impact or shortly after do not often result in survival actions in Alabama because only filed claims may survive. In short, there must be time for a fatal accident victim to file a claim for their injuries.
Under the law, certain kinds of claims may survive even if they were not filed. While claims regarding personal injuries must have been filed to survive, claims upon express or implied contracts need not be filed to survive. Similarly, claims for damages to the deceased person’s reputation may survive even if they were not filed before their passing.
Call Our Alabama Wrongful Death Attorneys for Assistance
Reach out to our Alabama car accident lawyers to arrange for a free review of your case by calling Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.