The laws surrounding personal injury claims can be complicated. When a person files a personal injury claim but dies before the issue is resolved, surviving loved ones may not know what’s next. However, most personal injury claims can be continued through the deceased’s estate. Here’s what you need to find out if you’re the family member or personal representative of a deceased person who had initiated a claim prior to death.
When a surviving family member takes over a personal injury claim of a deceased person, the claim type is referred to as a survival action. Under Pennsylvania Code Section 8302 – Survival Action, the law reads that “all causes of action or proceedings, real or personal, shall survive the death of the plaintiff or the defendant…”
The only parties who can continue a survival action are the following.
- The deceased’s personal representative
- Estate administrator
- Estate executor
However, while the law limits those who may engage a survival action, compensation can be paid (the claim can be filed on the behalf of) to beneficiaries, such as a surviving spouse or children.
What damages are available in a survival action?
When a personal injury claim is continued, the damages that are payable to the representative of the deceased are the same damages that would have been paid to the deceased had death not resulted.
These damages often include the following.
- Pain and suffering of the dead
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Cost of physical/property damages
- Future lost wages
The damages available in a personal injury claim, and, therefore, a survival action, vary on a case-by-case basis.
A wrongful death claim is independent of a survival action, and damages cannot be duplicative, although both claims may be filed as different damages types. Parties who can file a wrongful death claim include only the personal representative of the estate.
Talk to an Attorney to Learn More
When you lose a loved one to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, knowing what to do next can be very confusing. If your loved one started a personal injury claim prior to death, you may have questions about whether or not you should continue the claim or initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. To help clarify your options and provide you with more guidance, you need a legal professional.