wrongful death vs survival action

Losing a loved one is never easy.

If the death can be attributed to the negligent or careless behavior of another person or entity, you may be able to receive compensation by filing a claim for wrongful death or a survival action. 

No amount of money can truly compensate you for the loss of a loved one, but being awarded damages may ease the financial burden.

Attorney Wes Cottrell has over 32 years of experience helping surviving family members achieve the best possible solution during this difficult time of grieving through wrongful death and survival action claims.

We can carry the legal burden while you focus on healing. 

Wrongful Death vs Survival Action

Wrongful death and survival claims are both potentially applicable in Missouri after the death of a loved one.

Though there is some overlap, there are significant differences between a wrongful death and survival action. They are two different legal claims.

Just because one is applicable, does not mean that the other is as well. 

Wrongful Death in Missouri

A wrongful death claim compensates surviving family members for the losses they individually suffered as a result of a loved one’s death.

Wrongful death claims must be filed by the deceased’s spouse, parents, or children. Your loved one’s death must have been directly linked to the negligence or harmful intent of another person or party.

Your attorney will help you determine if all of the elements of negligence exist in your case. Possible economic and non-economic damages include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses; 
  • Loss of decedent’s expected earning capacity; 
  • Loss of benefits such as medical insurance coverage or pension plans; 
  • Loss of inheritance;
  • Value of any goods or services that would have been provided;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Post-traumatic stress;
  • Loss of the care, protection, and guidance from the deceased; 
  • Loss of household services of the deceased;
  • Loss of love and companionship; and 
  • Loss of consortium. 

The loved ones filing the wrongful death claim must have experienced equitable losses as a precursor to recovery. 

What Is a Survival Action? 

Unlike a wrongful death claim, which compensates family members for their losses, a survival action compensates the losses suffered by the person who passed away.

When pursuing a Missouri wrongful death vs survival action, there are a number of important differences.

First, a survival action must be filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate, rather than a family member. Damages are determined by the losses that the deceased had the legal right to recover had they survived.

These may include expenses leading up to the death but also non-economic damages related to the victim prior to death. Non-economic damages increase in relation to how much the victim suffered prior to death.

Survival action damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Mental anguish,
  • Post-traumatic stress,
  • Embarrassment,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Depression, and 
  • Other mental and psychological components of the experience. 

Keep in mind that a survival action is not just for accidents leading to death. They are for any accident the decedent didn’t have time to seek compensation for before they died.

For example, if your loved one suffered a broken leg in a car accident six months ago and then died of an unrelated heart attack, their estate could file a survival action to pursue compensation for the car accident.

It is important to seek counsel from a Missouri attorney experienced in survival action cases. These types of damages can be difficult to prove without proper evidence. 

Seeking Recovery for Wrongful Death vs Survival Action in Missouri

Both a wrongful death and survival action involve complex legal principles.

Wes Cottrell and the team at Cottrell Law Offices understand the nuances of Missouri law and can help you determine the best path forward seeking compensation for one or both claims.

Along with experienced legal counsel, we offer compassion and understanding during this difficult time. 

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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