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Wrongful Death And Survivor Suits: What’s The Difference?


When someone is in an accident, and then passes away, many people believe that there is always a wrongful death lawsuit that can be filed. But many forget that Florida also has a survivor’s statute, which, at least on the surface, appears to do the same thing.

So what’s the difference between a wrongful death case, and a survival lawsuit?

Florida does have two separate causes of action when an accident victim dies. One is a survival action and the other is a wrongful death action.

The difference between the two is written in the statute, and can affect what damages can be recovered–but before you get to what damages are available, you first need to see which law you can sue under.

The Cause of the Death and the Survivor Statute

The difference has to do with why the victim passed away. If the victim passed away because of an injury related to the accident itself, Florida’s wrongful death statute applies.

But sometimes, someone may pass away for reasons unrelated to the accident. For example, someone can have an accident, and in the process of waiting for the case to resolve or go to trial, the victim may die of a disease, old age or have a heart attack.

When someone dies for a reason unrelated to the accident, Florida’s survivor statute allows the estate of the deceased to carry on the claim–the victim’s lawsuit does not die with the victim.

The law allows the survivors to continue to get damages, for the deceased’s pain, suffering, hardship, and of course, reimbursement of expenses that the deceased suffered before his or her death, which were caused by the accident.

Wrongful Death Suits

When someone passes away because of injuries that were caused by the accident, the case becomes a wrongful death lawsuit. Unlike a survivor’s claim, which compensates the deceased (or his or her estate, really)  for what he or she suffered, a wrongful death action is compensation for the deceased’s family.

The wrongful death case will compensate the family for the loss of the loved ones–both financially, for lost financial support that the deceased would have provided if he or she had lived, but also for the pain and suffering and loss of familial companionship that the family suffers.

What Caused the Death?

Sometimes, there can be dispute over the actual cause of the death–that is, whether the victim’s death is part of a “chain reaction” of events that started with the accident, which would make it into a wrongful death case.

Which statute–survivor or wrongful death–is best in your particular case, is an individual analysis, and you may not have a choice. But where there is room for argument, a good personal injury attorney can analyze your case, and advise a family which law would provide the most comprehensive recovery possible.

If you have suffered the death of a loved one because of an accident, we can help. Call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas Nunez Sanders Butler & Hovsepian for help today. Schedule a consultation today.


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