What Happens To a Personal Injury Claim When the Plaintiff Dies?
When a person is seriously injured due to the negligence of another person or company, he or she is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. If successful, a victim can hold the negligent party accountable for various economic damages (like medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages (like pain and suffering).
Unfortunately, a lot can happen between the time a personal injury occurs and when a personal injury lawsuit is resolved. Sadly, there are times when people pass away before a resolution can come for them. When this happens, there are still significant legal rights that the deceased victim’s loved ones and estate can pursue.
What is a Survival Action and Who Can Pursue One?
If a victim dies after filing a personal injury lawsuit, but before a judgment is entered, then the Nevada revised statutes protect the rights of the estate of the deceased. It does so by explicitly allowing the executor or administrator of the victim’s (decedent’s) estate to maintain the personal injury lawsuit.
The estate is permitted to seek “all losses or damages which the decedent incurred or sustained before the decedent’s death, including any penalties or punitive and exemplary damages which the decedent would have recovered if the decedent had lived, and damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement and loss of probable support, companionship, society, comfort and consortium.”
What if the Victim Dies as a Result of the Injuries Suffered?
A survival lawsuit should not be mistaken with a wrongful death cause of action, or a wrongful death claim, which is a separate and distinct lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is a lawsuit that a victim’s heirs and estate can each seek when the victim has died as a result of the wrongdoer’s negligence or wrongful act. These heirs include a victim’s surviving wife and children, or parents if there are no wife or children.
Wrongful death lawsuits are also different than personal injury lawsuits in the scope of damages available. Heirs may recover funeral expenses, as well as damages focused on their own “grief or sorrow, loss of probable support, companionship, society” and “comfort and consortium”. Also, they may seek damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement that the victim suffered. Because they are separate and distinct claims, a survival lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit can be maintained separately or combined in certain circumstances.
Trust Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. to Fight for You
Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. provide representation to people pursuing damages through personal injury and wrongful death claims. If you have suffered a serious injury due to another person’s actions, or a loved one has been killed, you need a lawyer. Our attorneys are proven, respected advocates who have helped clients recover millions of dollars in damages.