In the state of California, the surviving loved ones of fatal accident victims are allowed to pursue tort claims under the law in many cases. For instance, the immediate family members of a decedent are often eligible to pursue wrongful death claims in cases involving proven negligence and liability. When discussing tort law and wrongful death claims, it is helpful to recognize that there is a difference between a “true” wrongful death action and a “survival” wrongful death claim.
According to the National Paralegal College, a true wrongful death claim is a tort claim brought by the estate of a decedent in order to recover damages they suffered as a result of the injury victim's death. Most jurisdictions, including California, allow for wrongful death claims. However, wrongful death claimants are not typically allowed to seek punitive damages.
A “survival” wrongful death action is defined as a claim in pursued by the survivors of a decedent for damages that the decedent would have had in the event that he or she did not die. The National Paralegal College discusses survival actions further, and explains that the “survival” statute of tort law often extends to property damage and personal injury claims that the decedent incurred prior to death.
The estate of the decedent may be eligible to pursue survival claims in cases where the injury victim died during the process of pursuing his or her own personal injury claim. For instance, the wife of a car accident victim may be eligible to assume the role of her husband in his pursuit of damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering if he died before the case was resolved. An estate may also be able to pursue a survival action in some cases where the decedent did not have the opportunity to begin a personal injury claim on his or her own in some cases.
To learn more about wrongful death claims in California, visit the website of the law offices of William C. Bibb today.