Search Site
155 NE 100th St., Suite 210 | Seattle, Washington 98125
Have Your Case Evaluated For Free In The Comfort Of Your Home 206-402-5214

Survival Actions Versus Wrongful Death Cases in Seattle

As the name suggests, a wrongful death case is when someone is killed due to reckless or careless behavior by another person. However, sometimes, before the victim passes away, they live for seconds, hours, or months. In such cases, not only may there be a wrongful death action on behalf of family members, but a survival action on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

What is a Survival Action in Seattle?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought on behalf of certain family members who lost a loved one. Sometimes the victim might pass away immediately. However, sometimes, the victim may live for a while, and in such a case, a survival action may be appropriate. Even if the victim survived only for moments, if, during that time, they suffered due to their injuries, a survival action is something to consider.

There are key differences between a wrongful death action and a survival action.

The Plaintiff

  • In a wrongful death action, the plaintiffs are the family members. These family members are identified by statute and limited to spouse/domestic partner, children, parents, and siblings. The estate may sue, but also, the family members may sue. For example, a spouse may sue on behalf of themselves and their minor children.
  • In a survival action, the victim is the deceased. The executor of the estate, a person normally identified by will, can hire a lawyer to represent the estate in order to file the lawsuit.
    • If no one was appointed executor or the deceased person does not have a will, it is necessary to go to probate court so that one can be appointed.

The Type of Damages

  • We have previously addressed the issue of the type of damages available in a wrongful death action. Essentially, they include both economic and non-economic damages.
  • In a survival action, the damages focus on the pain, suffering, humiliation, or anxiety the victim suffered while they were still alive. If the person passed away instantly, there is no basis for a survival action. However, there is still a basis for a wrongful death claim.

Unique Issues in Survival Actions

There are some unique evidentiary issues that arise in survival actions. The first question is whether the person survived, and if so, for how long. It can be difficult to know if someone passed away immediately or if they survived for seconds or minutes. The next question focuses on how much the person suffered if they survived. These are gruesome questions to ask about someone we love, but they are necessary to access the potential for a lawsuit and what its value might be.

If a person survives long enough for help to arrive, the people who saw the victim can testify about what they saw, whether the victim was alert, whether they seemed to be in pain, and so on. If the person gets to the hospital, medical records can help establish whether they suffered and how much. In addition, expert witnesses can testify about their knowledge about the pain and suffering one tends to experience in certain types of car crashes with certain types of injuries.

We are Here to Help You and Your Family

Losing a loved one in a car crash is horrible. Having to stop and think about whether your loved one suffered before they died is inconceivable. And yet, the only way our legal system can compensate us is through a wrongful death or survival action. If you lost a loved one and are wondering about your options, if you need help determining if a wrongful death or survival action would be appropriate in your case, please reach out to us. We will listen to what happened and seek justice on your family’s behalf.

Review My Case for Free

An attorney will review your case within 24 hours, and we will reach out with next steps.

Quick Contact Form

  • "Successful defense: A family member was charged with a misdemeanor and then another later on. Ms. Hart was able to successfully defend them, and my family member wound up with no criminal record. She was easy to work with and very competent in my opinion. "  -Richard

  • "This was my fist time ( hopefully my last ) Melissa was with me every step of the way, she help me get the trust and confidence I needed and it all turned out good at the end and am very grateful for that.........THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP"  -Bas

  • "outstanding attorney! I found Melissa to be a true legal expert in the area of auto accidents. I have no doubt she got me the best possible outcome and reward for my recent two collisions..."  -Billy

  • "This review is extremely tardy, but VERY well deserved. In the spring of 2015, Melissa represented me in a delicate matter, and she was superb. Melissa not only knows her field, but she also TRULY CARES."  -Steven

  • "Very knowledgeable and super helpful: Melissa was recommended to me for assistance by my chiropractor and she was wonderful. I had a very successful consultation phone call and she helped me to organize and resolve my challenges."  -Jordan

  • "I would highly recommend Melissa to anyone needing a lawyer. My son had been in/out of jail for the last few years when he was arrested on felony drug charges and placed in King County jail..."  -Kimberly

  • "Great Lawyer: Melissa did a great job on my case, working with me every step of the way and keeping me informed. She was great and I would hire her again if I needed to (hopefully I won't need to)"  -anonymous

  • "A Lawyer With A Heart ❤️ : Melissa came in highly recommended to me by a friend. I have never done this process before and my stress level was to the max, because they waited the very last minute to proceed with my lawsuit..."  -Erica

  • "Exceptional Traffic Collision Lawyer: I would recommend Melissa Odama Hart to anyone who has been in a collision, whether you are at fault or not at fault. She has exceptional legal knowledge and judgment in collision law..."  -Amanda

Our Office
  • Seattle Office
    155 NE 100th St.
    Suite 210
    Seattle, Washington 98125
    Phone: 206-402-5214
    Fax: 206-299-9944
Verdicts and Settlements