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Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Survival Actions: Who May Bring Them

Paramedics Wheeling Severely Injured Patient To Hospital

If you have lost a relative due to another person’s fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation. New Jersey law permits certain family members to sue the person who caused their loved one’s death. There are two remedies possible: a wrongful death lawsuit or a survival action. Here’s what you need to know about these forms of legal relief.

A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed when a person is killed because of another’s intentional, reckless or negligent act. The suit is filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased victim, which means his or her executor or court-appointed administrator. The amounts recovered in the suit are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the deceased person’s will or, if there is no will, to surviving family members that may include:

  • A spouse
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Nieces or nephews
  • Other relatives financially dependent on the deceased person

Damages in wrongful death cases can include funeral expenses, lost income and other economic losses suffered by the surviving family members due to the untimely death.

A survival action, by contrast, seeks compensation for the injuries the decedent suffered before death. In essence, it is the cause of action that the decedent could have pursued had he or she lived.

Like a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action is filed by the personal representative of the estate. If the decedent had a will, the executor files the survival action. If the person dies without a will, a court-appointed administrator can file a survival claim.

In a survival action, the estate may recover damages for what the decedent went through because of the injuries that led to death. These could include pain and suffering prior to death, medical costs and loss of property. As in a wrongful death lawsuit, the proceeds of the survival action are distributed to the estate’s beneficiaries.

For each of these types of cases, the surviving spouse or another close member of the family is often the personal representative who may file the claim. A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer can advise you about your right to assume this role and what needs to be done to initiate legal action.

Kevin T. Kutyla, Esq. in Succasunna represents families in Sussex and Morris counties and throughout New Jersey in obtaining compensation for losses of loved ones. I know how to properly file your wrongful death or survival action and to pursue maximum damages. Call 973-940-8970 or contact me online for your appointment.