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What Is A Survival Statute?

By Butler Prather LLP on September 15, 2020

Any time the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another person or entity result in someone’s death, there are two types of claims that can be made by the deceased person’s family to recover compensation. Most readers will be familiar with the term “wrongful death.” A wrongful death claim is only one type of action that the family of the deceased can bring against negligent parties. Another type of claim is called a survival action. While similar to a wrongful death claim, a survival action is typically distinguished by the types of compensation awarded.

survival statute

The basic differences between survival actions and wrongful death claims in Georgia

Both a survival action and a wrongful death claim can be filed in the aftermath of a person losing their life due to the actions of somebody else.

  • A wrongful death claim will typically be filed when the victim dies immediately after the act of negligence of the other party that resulted in the fatal incident.
  • A survival action will typically be filed in conjunction with a wrongful death claim when the victim did not die immediately after the negligent actions of another party. In many cases, victims survive for short or more extended periods of time after an injury-causing incident.

Both wrongful death and survival actions are strictly governed by the law in Georgia. It is important to understand that the law specifically lays out which parties can file both wrongful death claims and survival action claims as well as the types of compensation recoverable in each.

Survival action compensation

A survival action claim is also referred to as an estate claim in Georgia. The estate of the deceased will possess specific claims that are independent of a wrongful death claim. In general, wrongful death claims are going to be more valuable because they account for the full value of the life of the deceased. However, an estate claim is going to cover losses that the deceased incurred before their death as well as funeral expenses. Some of the most common compensation awarded a survival action include the following:

  • Medical expenses incurred by the deceased before their passing
  • Pain and suffering damages incurred by the deceased before passing
  • Lost earnings until the time of the victim’s passing
  • Funeral and burial expenses

Filed in conjunction with a wrongful death claim

In general, a survival action or estate claim is going to be pursued in conjunction with the wrongful death claim in Georgia. Often, an attorney will file these two claims together. It is not uncommon to see only a wrongful death claim filed, but if survival actions are also being filed, the claim will typically come alongside with the wrongful death claim.

Under Georgia law, the survival action is an extension of the legal claim associated with the deceased person. Therefore, a representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a survival action in Georgia. This representative could include the executor of the estate, the administrator of the estate, or other personal representative of the deceased. Often, this representative includes a member of the deceased person’s family.

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