Loss of a life is tragic anytime it occurs – even more so when the individual loses their life due to the recklessness, negligence, or an intentionally committed wrongful act. In these cases, the unfortunate, untimely death of a person leaves behind a huge void – both for the loved ones left behind and the estate of the deceased. It is possible for the deceased’s estate to recover damages for the financial effects felt by their absence, but to do so it is advisable to consult a Temecula attorney experienced in survival actions to ensure all the estate’s legal rights are preserved and the proper steps are taken to obtain maximum recovery for a loss that will never be made right.
Temecula Crime Facts
One of the more common events giving rise to a survival cause of action is the wrongful death of an individual as the result of a violent event or crime. Temecula is a relatively safe city compared to the rest of California – 1 in 223 residents of California annually will be victims of violent crime while only 1 in 969 residents of Temecula will find themselves in a similar plight. However, notwithstanding the relative safety, 118 Temecula citizens found themselves victims of violent crime in 2017 with the areas around North Plaza Drive and Ynez Road as well as Margarita Road and Rancho California Road ranking as the most violent. Any such instance could have resulted in loss of life and stemmed a survival action.
Should I File a Wrongful Death Claim or a Survival Action?
It may appear at first glance that wrongful death causes of action and survival actions are one in the same. Though they are quite often brought simultaneously in the event someone is wrongfully killed, they are not the same. However, they are closely linked and often both apply in the event of a wrongful death.
In California, if you are a surviving family member of the deceased seeking to recover compensatory damages for your loved one’s death due to negligence, recklessness, or an intentional act, you would file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. If, however, you are a personal representative of the decedent’s estate and want compensatory damages to recovery losses the victim’s estate has suffered as a result of their death, filing a survival action in civil court is the correct course of action.
What Events Give Rise to a Temecula Survival Action?
If someone in Temecula is killed because of an intentional act, recklessness, or negligent behavior, a survival action may be brought to compensate the decedent’s estate for financial losses the deceased incurred prior to their death.
The catch for survival actions, which gives rise to their name, is that damages must have been incurred after the wrongful act occurred but prior to the subsequent death. If a wrongful act instantly killed the decedent, this action may not be brought. However, if the decedent lived long enough for any economic harm at all to be suffered, the cause is appropriate. For example, these would be appropriate situations for a survival action:
- A shooting victim dies in the ambulance en route to the hospital;
- A pedestrian died several minutes after being hit by a drunk driver;
- A drowning victim at an unattended swimming pool that dies after EMTs perform minutes of CPR; or
- An elder that dies after being the victim of abuse or neglect at their nursing home.
What Damages Can the Decedent’s Estate Recover?
The estate of a decedent is entitled to recover two types of damages upon an appropriate showing of proof – compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages for wrongful death for a decedent’s estate are limited to economic damages. Noneconomic compensatory damages such as pain and suffering are not awarded in either a survival action or a wrongful death lawsuit. These damages are intended to make the estate whole for the harm they have suffered as a result of the wrongful act.
In a survival action the estate is generally allowed to recover damages such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Funeral expenses;
- Personal property damage; and
- Lost income (the decedent’s potential income reasonably expected in the future is included).
Unlike California wrongful death actions, where punitive damages are not available, parties to a survival action may claim and recover them from a wrongdoer. If the estate’s representative can prove the offender’s wrongful act that resulted in the death was committed with malice, fraud, or oppression, punitive damages are merited. This can be a huge weapon in survival actions, as there is no statutory limit on the amount of punitive damages a judge or jury may award – it is purely dependent on the facts of the case. Therefore, it is important to have experienced survival action representation in Temecula to make sure the facts are presented properly in court.
What Should I Do if I Want to Bring a Survival Action?
If you believe a wrongful death has occurred in Temecula and want to bring a survival action for the estate, it is important to act quickly. The statute of limitations for survival actions is the later of 2 years from the wrongful act or 6 months after the death, otherwise the lawsuit will be barred and recovery denied.
Contact an Attorney
Though loss of the deceased is upsetting, it’s advisable to contact the experienced Temecula survival action attorneys at Walton Law today to preserve the estate’s rights, receive legal advice about your unique situation, and determine the best course of action. The skilled attorneys at Walton Law represent clients like you in Temecula and the surrounding area. We have years of experience advocating aggressively for clients to receive maximum recovery. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or via our online Contact Page to set up a no obligation, no risk, confidential consultation. You pay no fees unless we win your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys will review your case and deliver personalized representation to help secure the best possible outcome for you.