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What Happens If an Injury Victim Passes Away While Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?

The death of a loved one is one of the most painful things most of us will ever experience. Knowing that their death could have been prevented only makes the situation worse. However, there are options for surviving family members who want justice after a loved one passes away. Options depend on the type of accident and the circumstances prior to the individual’s death.

To discuss your options after a loved one’s death, get in touch with Peake & Fowler today. Give us a call at 803-788-4379 to set up a consultation.

Survival Action

One option that may be available to you is a survival action. This type of claim seeks compensation on the part of the decedent for harm they suffered prior to their death. Types of damages you may seek in a survival action include:

  • Medical expenses incurred by the victim prior to their death
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering that victim had prior to their death
  • Any other damages associated with personal injury claims

In essence, a survival action picks up the personal injury claim where the decedent left it. The person filing the claim does so on behalf to the decedent’s estate, and any damages that are recovered are given to the estate.

Wrongful Death Claims

The other option, which many more people are familiar with, is a wrongful death claim. With a wrongful death claim, the person filing the claim does so on behalf to the decedent’s surviving loved ones. The claim is meant to compensate the surviving family members, not the decedent—this is what differentiates a wrongful death claim from a survival action.

Since compensation is intended to benefit surviving loved ones, the types of compensation vary quite a bit from a wrongful death claim. Some of the damages you may be able to claim include:

  • The costs of burying your loved one
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost income, including future income that the decedent would have contributed to the family had they survived
  • Mental trauma and anguish caused by the loss of a loved one
  • Loss of companionship

In some circumstances, victims may also be awarded punitive damages. However, this is fairly rare. For the courts to award punitive damages, they must believe that the liable party showed wanton disregard or malice in their actions. Punitive damages aim to prevent similar future behavior, both by the liable party and by others.

Who Can Sue the Liable Party

In both types of claims, the executor or administrator of the estate must file the claim. If the decedent did not name an executor or administrator, the court-appointed executor is responsible for taking legal action.

In a wrongful death claim, damages go first to the victim’s spouse and children. If they do not have a spouse or child, compensation goes to their parents. If they do not have any living parents, any named heirs receive compensation.

In a survival action, compensation is given to the estate and is distributed by the estate to surviving loved ones.

Why You Need an Attorney

Survival actions and wrongful death claims can be very complicated. Insurance companies are often hesitant to pay the full amount that the surviving family members deserve, simply because it is such a substantial money. Remember, these claims compensate for loss of companionship, future earnings that the decedent would have brought in, and other expenses.

The insurance company’s top priority is protecting their bottom line, not what is best for your family. With an experienced attorney by your side, you can successfully thwart the common tactics used by insurance companies to avoid doing what is right. You and your family have suffered tremendously because of the death of a loved one, and no insurance company should get in the way of justice being served. Your attorney will handle all of the complex legal matters, so you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.

Turn to Peake & Fowler for Help with a Personal Injury Claim

If you’re ready to file a wrongful death claim or survival action in South Carolina, let Peake & Fowler guide you through this process. To schedule a consultation and get started, give us a call at 803-788-4370 or get in touch with us online. We look forward to supporting you during this difficult time.