Survival actions and wrongful death actions go hand in hand, with the heirs of a deceased accident victim typically being entitled to file both claims. The damages recovered in a survival action are a bit different than the compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit, and it is important to understand the difference between the two claims if you are pursuing compensation for the death of a loved one.
A survival action is a lawsuit that continues on despite the death of the injured party. In the case of a fatal accident, the victim’s heirs can continue filing the lawsuit that the deceased victim could have filed if they lived, recovering compensation for the victim and paying it into their estate. A wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, recovers damages for the victim’s family and heirs.
For help, contact the Tennessee wrongful death lawyers at Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357.
Survival Actions in Tennessee Fatal Accident Cases
If a loved one died in an accident, a survival action allows you to take up their lawsuit and recover compensation that they would have been entitled to. In a car accident case, for example, the victim would be entitled to sue the at-fault driver. If they died, they cannot take up this lawsuit, but survival action rules allow their family to take up the lawsuit for them.
Under T.C.A. § 20-5-102, lawsuits survive the death of the plaintiff or defendant. The victim of an accident is known as the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Whether the victim died in the fatal accident in question or they died for unrelated reasons, the family can use this law to bring the accident lawsuit on their deceased loved one’s behalf. Families are certainly not on their own and can file with the help of our Nashville wrongful death attorneys.
If the victim lingered for some time after an accident and had already filed the case in court, control of the lawsuit will automatically pass to their heirs to continue the claim. If the case had not been filed by the time the victim died, the heirs can usually file the case, following the rules we will discuss below.
In this lawsuit, you recover the same damages the victim would have claimed if they lived. This can cover damages such as vehicle damage in a car accident case or medical bills, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic damages in all types of accident cases.
How Wrongful Death Lawsuits Are Different from Survival Actions After Deadly Accidents in Tennessee
While a survival action allows the family to be compensated for the same damages the victim would have been able to claim in an injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit pays the victim’s family for new damages they face because of the death.
Under T.C.A. § 20-5-106, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed for a family member’s death. According to that same section and § 20-5-107, this lawsuit must be filed either by the deceased’s personal representative (named in the will) or by their spouse. Our attorneys can help you, as the spouse, file this lawsuit even if someone else is named as the deceased’s personal representative. If the victim had no spouse, the right to file passes to their next of kin, such as the victim’s children. T.C.A. § 20-5-110 also has special rules for when a spouse files this case.
The benefits of this lawsuit pass the same way – first to the spouse, then to other next of kin if the victim was not married or the spouse is also deceased. If the benefits and right to sue pass to a minor, there are special rules about how to put the benefits in a trust.
T.C.A. § 20-50-113 lays out what damages are recovered in these lawsuits. First, this statute does authorize damages for the victim’s pain and suffering as well as their lost time – something many other states do not authorize. You can also claim damages for burial and funerary costs and other “necessary expenses,” as well as damages to the family members filing the lawsuit. These damages can include things like pain and suffering, grief, and loss of consortium.
Who Files a Survival Action for a Deadly Injury in Tennessee
A survival action is filed by the same parties that file the wrongful death lawsuit. T.C.A. § 20-5-102 specifically states that the cause of action passes on to the same parties described in the wrongful death statute (§ 20-5-106). This means that the survival action can be filed by the personal representative or the spouse of the deceased. If the victim had no spouse, then the right to sue passes to the children or other next of kin instead of the spouse.
What Damages Are Included in a Survival Action in Tennessee?
As mentioned, a survival action allows the victim’s family to claim damages that the victim would have been able to sue for in an injury lawsuit. This often includes damages for property damage, medical bills, and other economic and non-economic damages discussed above.
Funeral and burial expenses are separate from these survival action damages, as a victim who survived an injury lawsuit would not need those damages. Instead, funeral and burial expenses are usually claimed through the wrongful death lawsuit.
All in all, a lot of the damages you can claim in a survival action overlap with the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, and an attorney can help you ensure that you claim these damages in the proper lawsuit.
Call Our Tennessee Wrongful Death and Survival Action Lawyers Today
For help after a loved one is killed in a deadly accident, call (844) 876-4357 for a free case review with Howe Law’s Knoxville wrongful death attorneys.