A loved one’s death brings with it a barrage of emotion. When that death occurs as the result of someone else’s negligence, the pain and process can be that much harder to bear.

When someone dies as the result of an injury or illness caused by another, dependents and heirs have certain rights. A wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action are similar in many ways but have a few distinctions separating them. Consider how each action works.


The behavior of the person who caused the accident is scrutinized in the aftermath. If the injury resulted in death, this investigative process is tenfold. The motives and actions are brought into questions, and the guilty party (the defendant) is analyzed. Finding fault means proving the defendant was negligent. An action or failure to take action on the part of the defendant must be identified. For example, if a person has a few drinks at a party, gets behind the wheel of a car and strikes someone, they may be found negligent. Because the reasonable possibility of an accident occurring existed, and they still chose to drive, they may be found at fault for the death.

Wrongful Death Actions

A wrongful death action is similar to a personal injury suit, except the victim, or plaintiff is deceased. The death may have occurred due to injuries caused by the defendant. These are most often known as catastrophic injuries, and typical examples include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Amputation
  • Internal organ damage

Any one or a combination of the above may lead to eventual death for the victim. A lawsuit may start as a personal injury claim and end up in a wrongful death suit should the victim die during the case.

Survival Action 

A survival action is similar to a wrongful death suit in many ways. It is brought by the estate and looks to get compensation for the heirs of the deceased. While surviving heirs bring a wrongful death suit too, it is limited in the damages that may be recovered. Depending on where you live, a survival action may not only collect money for medical bills, burial costs and the like, but it may go far beyond. A survival action may collect for pain and suffering of the victim while alive, the income lost before the deceased died, and the emotional trauma inflicted by the incident.

A wrongful death lawyer in Tampa, FL, such as from Jeff Murphy Law, is a useful ally when trying to sort out details after a loved one dies. Getting help with which route to take may result in more compensation and closure for those left behind.