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Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Action

March 28, 2023 Legal Team

Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult experience. When the death of a family member is caused by someone else’s negligence, survivors may be able to pursue legal recourse by filing a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit. If you are considering taking legal action, it’s important to understand these types of claims so you can make informed decisions about your case.

Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Action

What is a Wrongful Death Action?

A wrongful death action is a lawsuit that seeks compensation for the beneficiaries of the deceased who have suffered losses due to their loved one’s untimely passing. These claims are made against the person or entity responsible for the fatality.

In Arizona, these claims must be brought within two years of the date of death. Only certain people are qualified to bring a wrongful death suit in Arizona: “An action for wrongful death shall be brought by and in the name of the surviving husband or wife, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the deceased person for and on behalf of the surviving husband or wife, children or parents, or if none of these survive, on behalf of the decedent’s estate.” 

Damages in Wrongful Death Actions 

In wrongful death lawsuits, plaintiffs typically seek economic damages including funeral expenses, reasonable medical expenses related to the decedent’s final illness or injury, and lost income and services that would have been provided had the decedent not died. 

Additionally, non-economic damages such as emotional pain and suffering caused by the loss of care, companionship, or guidance may also be awarded. Damages are awarded directly to beneficiaries. 

What is a Survival Action?

In Arizona, when a person dies due to another party’s negligence or wrongful act, certain claims can “survive” their death allowing their estate or heirs to bring suit against those responsible for their death on behalf of the deceased. 

According to Arizona’s survival action statute, “Every cause of action…shall survive the death of the person entitled thereto or liable therefor and may be asserted by or against the personal representative of such person, provided that upon the death of the person injured, damages for pain and suffering from such injured person shall not be allowed.”

In other words, a survival action is another type of lawsuit arising from the death of a loved one caused by another individual’s negligence. Unlike wrongful death actions which seek compensation on behalf of beneficiaries, these suits are filed on behalf of the deceased party. These claims permit the decedent’s estate to seek damages that the deceased would have been able to recover had they not passed away. 

According to Arizona’s statute of limitations, survival actions must be filed by a certain deadline or the claim will be barred: 

“Upon the death of a person in whose favor there is a cause of action which has not been barred as of the date of his death, the limitation of the action ceases to run until a personal representative is appointed or until twelve months after the death, whichever first occurs, but shall not bar such action sooner than four months after death even if a personal representative is appointed earlier.”

Damages in Survival Actions 

Damages in survival actions are measured by what would have been recoverable by the decedent had they not died and typically include lost wages and medical expenses prior to their passing. Pain and suffering damages of the deceased are not recoverable.

If you have lost someone close to you due to another party’s negligent or wrongful act in Arizona, you may have grounds for both a survival action and wrongful death claim in Phoenix. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options so you can get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.