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Wrongful Death and Survival Action: What’s the Difference?

Los Angeles Glendale Wrongful Death Lawye

Difference Between Wrongful Death & Survival Cause of Action

When a loved one dies due to the negligence of another party, California law allows for two different types of lawsuits that can be brought against the negligent party. A California wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the representative of the deceased’s estate, or by the decedent’s surviving spouse, children or other dependent family members. While, a survival cause of action can be filed by the estate’s personal representative, or if none has been appointed, by the decedent’s successor-in-interest. A survival cause of action can only be brought if the decedent did not immediately die from his injuries. The survival statute allows one to “step into the shoes” of the deceased and recover the damages the deceased person would have been entitled to had they lived, including non-economic and economic damages, such as:

  1. Lost wages
  2. Medical expenses
  3. Pain & Suffering
  4. Punitive damages

What Damages are Recoverable Under California Wrongful Death Actions

In a California wrongful death action, plaintiffs are the surviving family members of the decedent and can seek to recover economic damages including, financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family during the lifetime of the decedent or the plaintiff; loss of gifts or benefits that plaintiff would have expected to receive from decedent; funeral and burial expenses reasonable value of household services that decedent would have provided to his or her loved ones.

Additionally, the surviving family members may also seek non-economic damages including loss of decedent’s love, companionship, loss of services, loss of support, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support; loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations; loss of decedent’s training and guidance.

What Damages are Recoverable Under California Survival Cause of Action

As noted above, a survival cause of action in California can only be brought if the decedent did not immediately pass from the injuries sustained. As such, if the deceased lived for even a short period between the accident and death, considering to file suit under survival cause of action may be appropriate. The representative of decedent’s estate may seek to recover damages including, “the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement”.

If you and your family are considering filing either a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit, or both if the circumstances permit, we invite you to contact one of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation and case review. Kaass Law has successfully represented victims in wrongful death and survival cause of actions.


This content is intended for educational purposes only. KAASS LAW is authorized to practice law in California. The above content is intended for California residents only. This content provides only general information, which may or may not reflect current legal developments. KAASS LAW expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any of the contents of this website. The above content DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship. KAASS LAW does not represent you unless you have expressly retained KAASS LAW in person at the KAASS LAW office.

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