Filing a Survivor Action in D.C. Alongside a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

People mourn at a funeral.
While filed simultaneously, a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action differ in their purpose. Let’s look at these two lawsuits dealing with the death of an individual.

What Is a Survival Action in Washington, D.C.?

A survival action is often filed in conjunction with a wrongful death lawsuit. It is the personal injury claim the person would have filed had they lived. In this sense, the estate is filing it against the at-fault party in the deceased’s stead. While filed simultaneously, a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action differ in their purpose. Let’s look at these two lawsuits dealing with the death of an individual.

Wrongful Death

The family files a wrongful death lawsuit. It aims to compensate the family for their losses due to their loved one’s death. While compensation, in this case, will not relieve the grief, anger and disbelief the family suffers, it will allow them to move forward without financial difficulty.

What Damages Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Cover?

A wrongful death claim covers the following damages:

  • Funeral and burial costs are covered.
  • The monetary support the deceased would have provided had they lived until retirement can be recovered. 
  • The wrongful death lawsuit can recover the guidance and love the decedent provided.
  • A spouse can file a loss of consortium claim against the negligent party.
  • The wrongful death lawsuit can recover the cost of the decedent’s previously performed household tasks.

Who Files the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

This lawsuit can be filed by the following surviving members of the family:

  • The decedent’s spouse
  • The deceased’s children
  • The parents of the decedent
  • Siblings of the decedent

Survival Action

The survival action differs fundamentally, although it deals with the same person’s death. Here again, the person has died, yet, this lawsuit deals with the suffering the person experienced before their demise. The estate is essentially filing the personal injury lawsuit that outlived the decedent. It deals with the loss the decedent suffered, not the family. 

Damages in a Survival Action

The damages in a survival action include:

  • Medical costs 
  • Lost wages for the time between the accident and the decedent’s death
  • Conscious pain and suffering the decedent experienced between the time of the accident and their death, which varies from case to case
  • Mental and emotional anguish the decedent suffered prior to dying
  • If the cause of the accident was especially egregious, the estate can ask for punitive damages meant to punish the negligent or at-fault party

Should You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

This depends on the attributes of each case. However, if a person’s demise was caused by a negligent party or an intentional act, you have the right to do so. In many families, the loss of the support the decent provided is catastrophic and makes them unable to maintain their lives in a way they did before their loved one’s death. In most cases, the decedent would want them to file. It does not make up for the loss they suffered, and each family deals with that component individually.

Gathering Evidence in a Survival Action

This is no difference from other personal injury cases. The wrongful death/survival action attorney must investigate the accident for proof of liability. They do this in various ways, such as accident reconstruction of a car crash to examining a vehicle for defects to exploring physician malpractice. The investigators may interview witnesses, hospital personnel or anyone connected with the person’s death. Once all the evidence is gathered, the injury lawyers build a strong case for their clients.

Roeser Law Firm

At the Roeser Law Firm, we offer compassionate and experienced service to clients facing the death of a loved one. Contact us at (202) 660-4070 or online to schedule a free case review if this happens to you. We can answer the many questions you may have and provide you with information about your case. 

Zeke Roeser


3000 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 140
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 660-4070