While the passing of a loved one is a tragic and painful experience, it might also have complex legal implications for surviving family members. Depending on how your loved one passed away, there may be a viable survival action for their injuries and damages.
Survival actions are frequently filed alongside wrongful death claims. The main difference between the two is that a wrongful death claim focuses on the damages experienced by surviving families. Survival actions deal with the injuries suffered by the deceased person before they succumbed to their injuries. Fatal accident cases where a loved one did not immediately pass away from their injuries are more likely to lead to survival actions. Damages may include various personal injuries, including medical bills, property damage, and non-economic injuries like pain and suffering. In Atlanta, survival actions and wrongful death claims typically must be filed no later than 2 years after the death of a loved one.
Call the offices of Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 to schedule an evaluation of your claims with our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys for no charge.
Filing Survival Actions After Fatal Accidents in Atlanta
In Atlanta, survival actions and wrongful death claims are often handled as a single claim, but they are legally separate and distinct. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a), wrongful death claims may be filed on behalf of surviving family members, usually a spouse or children, for losses related to the death of a loved one. On the other hand, a survival action is for the injuries endured by the deceased person before they passed away.
According to O.C.G.A. § 9-2-41, various actions, including those for personal injuries, may survive if the plaintiff passes away before the case can be filed or after it is filed but before it is complete. A survival action may be carried on by someone with a right of survivorship over the claim, usually a spouse, child, or parent. However, if there is no surviving family with a right of survivorship, the claim survives to the personal representative or administrator of the deceased person’s estate.
Survival actions after fatal accidents typically consist of personal injuries experienced by the deceased individual. These are injuries the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit for if they had survived the accident.
Common Cases that Include Survival Actions in Atlanta
Survival actions are not uncommon after fatal accidents. Often, our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers file survival actions simultaneously with wrongful death claims after an accident. The extent of the claims made in a survival action might depend on the nature of the fatal accident and when death occurred.
A survival action may be filed whether the accident victim died immediately or if they survived for a while before passing away due to their injuries. Both situations are fairly common but may involve different claims and damages. Survival action claims where the deceased individual hung on for a while before passing away often involve more significant damages. The time between the accident and actual death often means the accident victims incurred more medical treatment and endured more physical and emotional pain and suffering. As such, damages tend to be greater.
Fatal accidents, including car crashes, construction accidents, and even premises liability cases like slip and falls, may lead to wrongful death claims and survival actions.
Damages Available in Atlanta Survival Actions
Since damages in survival actions are based on claims the deceased person could have brought if they survived, many cases involve damages for various personal injuries. Compensatory damages for personal injuries are based on economic and non-economic injuries. Keep in mind, survival action damages are not the same as those for wrongful death claims, which are awarded based on the full value of the life of the deceased individual.
Economic losses in survival actions consist of typical personal injury claims. Medical expenses, property damage, and the value of lost income are all on the table. The availability of these damages depends on your specific situation, so it is important to speak with an attorney about your claim. For example, if your loved one passed away from their injuries almost immediately after their accident, there might be few medical bills to add to your damages calculations. However, if they lived for even just a day or two after the accident before passing away, there might be significant medical expenses to account for.
Non-economic injuries are more subjective, as they are based on the personal experiences of the deceased individual. For example, physical and emotional pain and suffering may be claimed as part of these damages. Assessing non-economic injuries in survival actions is often challenging because we do not have input from the person who went through these painful experiences. However, pain and suffering may often be inferred or naturally flow from bodily injuries serious enough to cause death.
When to File a Survival Action in Atlanta
The statute of limitations in Atlanta for personal injury claims imposes a 2-year deadline to file the claims, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. For a survival action, this deadline begins when the injuries occurred, not necessarily when your loved one passed away. This is an important distinction to remember if your loved one did not immediately pass away after their accident.
In some cases, the estates of deceased individuals are not always legally represented right away. There might be some time before a personal representative comes forward or is appointed by the court. Fortunately, you do not have to risk losing your right to a survival action if it takes too long to get a personal representative. Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-92, the time between a person’s passing and the commencement of representation of their estate should not be counted against the deadline to file a survival action. However, this time cannot exceed 5 years.
Contact Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help
Call (844) 876-4357 to schedule a free case evaluation with our Georgia wrongful death attorneys at Howe Law.