Difference Between Wrongful Death Action and Survival Action

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If you have lost somebody you love due to the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another party, then you may need to file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. At The Jeffcoat Firm, we know that there is no amount of compensation that can erase the pain of your loss. However, our Columbia wrongful death lawyers want to help ensure you have closure. Here, we want to discuss the differences between wrongful death actions and survival actions in South Carolina. 

There is a difference between wrongful death and a survival action

Most people think of wrongful death actions and survival actions as being the same thing. While the final compensation may be awarded to the same parties for both situations, we want to distinguish between the two.

A wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit against an alleged negligent party who can be held liable for their actions that led to the person’s death. In these cases, SC law specifies that the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate will bring the wrongful death action. If they are successful with their claim, they will distribute the proceeds to family members and heirs according to the South Carolina wrongful death statute (Title 15 – Chapter 51 Article 1 Section 15-51-20).

Wrongful death lawsuits typically allow surviving family members to recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills incurred by the deceased
  • Lost wages, including future earnings
  • Lost benefits of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering of the family
  • Mental anguish of the family
  • Loss of support, companionship, and consortium
  • Funeral and burial expenses 

A survival action in South Carolina is going to be a bit different. Under SC law, the statute allows for the estate of the deceased to file a lawsuit for injuries or damages that the deceased suffered from immediately before they passed away. Under the survival action, the family is essentially filing a lawsuit for damages that the deceased would have been able to pursue had they lived (Title 15 Chapter 51 Article 1 Section 15-51-10).

Survival action cases will typically seek compensation for damages incurred prior to a person’s death and nothing following their death. This can include:

  • Emotional distress the deceased suffered from prior to death 
  • Medical expenses the deceased incurred prior to death 
  • Funeral expenses (if they are not covered in a wrongful death case)

In general, both a wrongful death claim and a survival action will be brought at the same time and handled through the same settlement negotiations or jury trial involved. 

We offer free consultations for your case

If you have lost somebody you love due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party, contact the experienced team at The Jeffcoat Firm today. We pledge to conduct a full investigation into your case in order to secure the closure and compensation you need. Our wrongful death lawyers serve all counties in South Carolina. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling us at 803-373-1302.


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