Defining the Difference between Survival Actionvs. Wrongful Death

| Feb 10, 2023 | Firm News

When someone dies due to an accident or injury, it can be difficult to determine whether it was a wrongful death or an act of survival. It is important to understand the differences between survival action and wrongful death to make this distinction.

If you live in Florida, you can file a lawsuit when someone else is responsible for causing harm to you or a loved one. A survival action is a legal claim where the injured person seeks compensation for their own damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. In a wrongful death case, the heirs of the deceased person sue on their behalf for things like loss of support, funeral expenses, and other damages.

Survival Action, Defined

A survival action is a legal term used to describe a lawsuit that can be brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate by the deceased’s survivors. This lawsuit is filed to compensate the deceased’s estate for any damages that the deceased incurred prior to their death.

To file a survival action in Florida, it must be proven that the death was caused by another party’s wrongful act, negligence, or default and that the decedent suffered damages. If these requirements are met, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help the survivors file a survival action to seek justice and closure.

Wrongful Death, Defined

Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a situation where the death of an individual is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or entity. In this situation, certain surviving family members of the deceased may be able to seek compensation for the death of their loved one through a wrongful death lawsuit.

The damages sought from the lawsuit are meant to compensate the surviving family members for the harm caused by the deceased’s death, such as loss of companionship, loss of financial support, and funeral costs. The lawsuit is filed against the person or entity responsible for the death.

Damages in Wrongful Death and Survival Action Cases

Wrongful death claims are a way for the survivors of a deceased person to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. Survival action claims are filed to seek compensation for damages the victim incurred before death, such as pain and suffering or medical bills. In Florida, wrongful death claims can be brought by the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents, while survival action claims can be brought by either the estate or the survivors.

In a wrongful death action, a person who has been killed due to the negligence of another individual or entity can be compensated for lost income, funeral and burial expenses, and the value of the victim’s emotional support and companionship. In a survival action, the victim’s family may also receive compensation for their loved one’s medical bills and pain and suffering before they pass away.

Which Family Members Are Eligible for Compensation?

Not all family members of a deceased person are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Generally, only immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and sometimes parents, can file a claim. In certain cases, other family members who were financially dependent on the deceased may also be able to file a claim.


It is important to understand the differences between a survival action and wrongful death claim. A survival action is a claim brought by an injured party, or their family, seeking compensation for the pain, suffering, and medical bills suffered by the decedent before their death that resulted from the incident while wrongful death is a claim brought by the family of the deceased for their loss or damages due to the negligence or wrongful act of another. It is essential to understand that these two claims are distinct from each other, and each has its own set of legal requirements for success.

Mendes, Reins, and Wilander is a personal injury law firm focusing on major and catastrophic injury, nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and vehicle accidents like car, motorcycle, and commercial vehicles. Our mission is to fight to protect your rights and seek maximum justice and compensation for all serious injuries. We are focused on clients and driven by results. If you need a wrongful death attorney in Tampa, FL, get in touch with us! Let us know how we can help.