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How are wrongful death actions and survival actions differrent?

South Carolina residents who have lost a loved one at the hands of another individual may choose to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. These claims can be filed against the individual deemed responsible or that person's estate -- should they also not survive the incident. In a wrongful death claim, both pecuniary and punitive damages may be sought. In some cases, survival actions may also be filed.

In order for a wrongful death claim to be filed, certain key elements must exist. These include the death of an individual caused by another person's negligence or caused with the intent to harm and monetary loss suffered by surviving family members. These claims can be filed for a number of circumstances, including medical malpractice, car accidents and even criminal behavior.

Pecuniary damages are primarily sought to recover any financial losses associated with a loved one's death. Several different factors are considered before the amount of compensation is determined, including loss of income and future earnings and loss of parental guidance. Punitive damages may be awarded in extraordinary circumstances as a form of punishment for the individual deemed responsible for the death.

What few people may fail to realize is that survival actions may also be appropriate if certain conditions are met. Victims who initially survive an incident, but ultimately pass away as a result suffer a great deal and are usually not given the chance to file personal injury claims to recover damages for themselves. Survival actions are a separate legal filing brought about by a representative of the decedent that, if approved, may result in recovering damages directly related to injuries suffered -- such as medical bills and compensation for conscious pain and suffering -- but does not compensate for damages directly associated with the victim's death like a wrongful death claim can. 

Survival actions may not apply to each and every case, but this type of claim is worth investigating in conjunction with filing a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina. Losing a loved one due to someone else's negligence or recklessness is never easy. While financial compensation can't bring the victim back to life, it can serve to hold those believed responsible accountable for their actions and provide for the economic needs of surviving family members as they try to move forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview", Oct. 20, 2014

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