Tucson: 520.571.9700 Yuma: 928.723.0088 Phoenix: 602.402.5207


The Differences Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions

By Karnas Law Firm |

Losing someone you love is the hardest experience you will ever go through. When another person’s negligence caused the death, it is natural to become even more frustrated and angry. You can hold the negligent party liable for paying damages to cover the losses sustained as a result of the wrongful death. In Arizona, two separate claims can be filed. These are a wrongful death claim, as well as a survival action. Although you can file these claims simultaneously, they do have important differences.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits that are filed against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the losses of the loved one’s of the deceased. Only certain surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim in Arizona. These include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving parent or legal guardian
  • Personal representative of the deceased’s estate

The damages awarded in wrongful death claims are intended to compensate the surviving loved ones for their losses associated with the death. Common damages awarded in wrongful death actions include the loss of companionship, care, love and guidance of the deceased, as well as the lost income the deceased would have earned that surviving family members depended on. The loss of household services, such as raising children or house cleaning, can also be included in wrongful death claims.

The damages awarded in wrongful death claims are meant to compensate the beneficiaries of the deceased. As such, any damages awarded are not subject to the liabilities or debts of the deceased.

What is a Survival Action?

Unlike wrongful death claims, survival actions are filed to recover financial compensation for the losses the deceased incurred prior to their death. Damages in survival actions often include the income the deceased would have earned from the time of the accident to the time of their death and the medical expenses they incurred prior to their death due to the accident. Under Arizona law, pain and suffering is not recoverable in survival actions.

Survival actions are not filed by the beneficiaries of the deceased but rather, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Any damages awarded are then also distributed to the estate. Since these damages are meant to compensate the estate, they are subject to liabilities and debts of the deceased. This means that if the deceased carried debt, their creditors could file a claim that entitles them to a certain portion of the survival action damages to cover the outstanding amount.

Our Wrongful Death Lawyer in Tucson Can Help During this Difficult Time

If you have lost a loved one, you need sound legal advice to recover the maximum compensation you deserve. At Karnas Law Firm, PLLC, our Tucson wrongful death lawyer can determine who is liable for the death, and help you file both a survival action and a wrongful death claim, depending on the facts of your case. Call us now at (520) 214-8343 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.