What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death and a Survival Action Claim in Georgia?
Posted by Wetherington Law Firm | Personal Injury, Wrongful Death
The loss of a loved one in an accident is devastating. While nothing could ever truly be sufficient to make up for such a tragedy, Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2) allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim to seek justice, accountability, and compensation for the “full value of the life of the decedent.”
In Georgia, families who lost a loved one to a fatal accident may also have an additional type of claim called “survival action.” In this article, our Atlanta wrongful death attorney explains the most important things to understand about the difference between wrongful death claims and survival action claims in Georgia.
The Difference: Survival Action Claim Allows Decedent’s Personal Injury Claim to Proceed
A wrongful death claim is filed by the surviving family members. Any compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is for their damages. For example, a surviving spouse can seek compensation for loss of love, companionship, and support through a wrongful death claim.
In contrast, a survival action claim is filed by the estate to compensate the victim (decedent) for the damages that they sustained between the accident and their death. In other words, a survival action claim allows the personal injury claim of a deceased person to proceed in court.
For example, imagine a person was severely injured in a car accident in Atlanta. They are transported to the emergency room. Two weeks later they tragically pass away from their injuries. Through a survival action claim, their estate can seek compensation for any medical bills incurred, wages lost, and pain and suffering endured during that two-week period.
Note: A survival action claim is generally only an option if the decedent (victim) survived for some period of time after the accident.
A Survival Action Claim Must Be Initiated By the Personal Representative
In Georgia, a survival action claim must be initiated by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Put another way, a surviving spouse—or another surviving family member—cannot file a survival action claim directly. The estate must bring it. Any damages recovered through a survival action claim in Georgia will become part of the estate.
Not an Either/Or Decision: Both Types of Claims Can Be Pursued
It is important to emphasize that your family does not need to choose between pursuing a wrongful death claim and a survival action claim. While they may be related, these are two separate causes of action. It is possible to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action claim in cases where a person has died as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Contact Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At Wetherington Law Firm, our Atlanta wrongful death lawyer is a compassionate, experienced advocate for families. If you have questions about survival action or wrongful death claims, we can help. Contact us today to set up a free, confidential consultation. Our Atlanta office provides wrongful death representation throughout Georgia, including in Cobb County, DeKalb County, and Fulton County.