Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Claims

couple discussing wrongful death claim with personal injury attorney

Nothing that can adequately ease the suffering of loved ones when someone passes away. This is especially true when the death resulted from another’s willful or negligent intent.  

In New Jersey, when someone dies due to another’s negligence, there are two types of legal actions that may be filed in New Jersey courts: Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims.

Each action has differing characteristics and applications, and New Jersey personal injury attorneys can best advise which is suitable under given circumstances.

Let’s examine Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Actions in New Jersey.

Under New Jersey Law, both a Wrongful Death Claim and Survival Actions may be filed seeking compensation from an at-fault party for the loss of a loved one. 

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought on behalf of the decedent by the deceased person’s family members. Those entitled to file a wrongful death claim include the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. More than one person will often want to file an action, and the claimants will be consolidated under a personal representative of the family.    

The purpose of a wrongful death action is to seek damages for specific monetary losses resulting from the victim’s death. These damages generally include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages and future earnings
  • Future emotional support, guidance, and services for minor children

The amount of compensation awarded is determined by calculating what the decedent may have reasonably earned and contributed to their family had they lived. 

Wrongful death awards are designed to compensate loved ones for their loss. Compensation is paid directly to the decedent’s beneficiaries and is protected from creditors. 

Survival Actions

Survival Actions are brought by the decedent’s estate, on behalf of the decedent. These actions seek to recover damages suffered by the decedent, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages 

Unlike a wrongful death award issued directly to the descendant’s heirs, damages recovered from survival actions are paid to the decedent’s estate.  As such, awarded damages are subject to collection by the decedent’s creditors.

Taxation of Wrongful Death and Survival Action Awards

There are several tax implications to consider when seeking damages under either a wrongful death claim or a survival action. 

Under New Jersey law, neither survival nor wrongful death awards are subject to state or federal income tax. However, in some cases, monies awarded in survival actions may be subject to state inheritance tax and state and federal estate taxes. In contrast, wrongful death awards are not subject to the same state and federal estate taxes and inheritance taxes. 

These tax implications should be carefully considered when seeking monetary damages and determining the allocation of such damages to either the wrongful death claim or survival action. 

Contact Our New Jersey Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or willful actions, you may have a case for financial compensation through a wrongful death claim or survival action, or both. 

Because the New Jersey statute of limitations governs these actions, it’s crucial you contact an experienced personal injury law firm today. An experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney will evaluate your case and present options that best suit your situation. 

While you’re in the process of mourning and healing from the loss of your loved one, entrust us to put our knowledge and experience to work for you. On your behalf, we will hold the at-fault party liable for your loss by getting you the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today.

Posted in: Personal Injury