What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions?

Learning that a loved one has passed away in an unexpected accident, such as a car crash or violent attack by a criminal, is extremely distressing. While you search for answers, know that you may be entitled to financial compensation from the person or party at fault for causing your loved one’s death through Nevada’s wrongful death laws. You could also have grounds to file a survival action, depending on the circumstances.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a civil action that may be brought under Nevada Revised Statutes Section 41.085. This law states that an heir or personal representative of a deceased individual (decedent) may maintain an action for damages (financial compensation) against the person or party that caused the death.

In Nevada, if someone dies because of the negligent, careless, reckless or intentional acts of another party, the decedent’s surviving loved ones may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to grant surviving family members and beneficiaries financial compensation to make up for the losses they suffered in connection to the death.

Compensable losses listed in a Las Vegas wrongful death lawsuit may include lost wages and inheritance from the decedent, the price of funeral and burial costs, lost companionship and care, loss of the decedent’s support, and the family’s mental anguish or grief. The compensation awarded in a wrongful death claim is focused on the survivors.

What Is a Survival Action?

A survival action is a separate type of lawsuit that could also be filed after the preventable death of a loved one in Nevada. A survival action is a claim brought in pursuit of compensation for the decedent’s losses. It focuses on the injuries and losses sustained by the deceased person prior to his or her death. This may include the victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and emotional distress.

The idea behind a survival action is that a personal injury claim should survive the victim if he or she passes away from the injuries inflicted by a negligent defendant. The claim should be allowed to continue to progress and, if the defendant is found liable, he or she should be made to pay the decedent’s estate the amount of compensation that the victim would have recovered had he or she survived the injury.

Key Differences

The main difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action in Nevada is that the former focuses on surviving family members while the latter focuses on the deceased victim. A wrongful death lawsuit that results in a settlement or jury verdict can pay damages to surviving family members, such as the decedent’s spouse, children, parents or siblings. A survival action, on the other hand, pays the decedent’s estate.

In Nevada, state law gives the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to any heir(s) of the deceased or the deceased person’s personal representatives. An heir can refer to anyone who is legally entitled to succeed to the separate property of the decedent, such as a surviving spouse, child, parent or sibling of the deceased person. A survival action is typically filed by the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you lose someone close to you in a preventable accident in Nevada, discuss your legal rights and options with an attorney near you. A lawyer can analyze your case and give you sound legal advice about bringing a wrongful death claim vs. a survival action, or filing both types of cases (if applicable). You and your family may be entitled to financial compensation through one or more outlets depending on the circumstances. The deadline for filing both types of cases in Nevada is two years from the date of death, so contact an attorney as soon as possible.