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What Happens if an Injury Victim Passes Away While Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Nov 09, 2020 in Personal Injury

flower placed at graveSome personal injury victims do not live to the end of the legal process. The injuries they suffered were so serious they were unable to recover. There may even be rare situations where someone who has filed a claim dies for some reason that is completely unrelated to the previous injury, such as another accident.

The question is: what happens to the claim they filed? Can a family member take over?

Below, learn more about what may happen in this kind of situation, and why having an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney to guide you is so important. If you have any questions about your claim, or what your next steps may be, call Phillips Law Group to set up a free legal consultation.

What Does Arizona Law Say About These Situations?

Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 14-3110 allows a cause of action to survive the plaintiff’s death through something called a survival action. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate may be able to pursue a survival action to recover compensation for damages suffered by the deceased before his or her death. However, the law prohibits the estate from seeking compensation for pain and suffering in a survival action.

The personal representative of the estate can pursue compensation for things like:

  • Medical bills accrued prior to death, such as bills for prolonged stays in the hospital
  • Lost earnings that the deceased would have gone on to earn
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages (such as wages lost while the deceased was in the hospital or otherwise unable to work)
  • Punitive damages, in some cases

It is important to note a survival action is not the same as a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim may provide compensation for pain and suffering and it is for the benefit of the deceased’s loved ones. That is why they may be able to claim things like:

  • Grief
  • Sorrow
  • Anguish
  • Stress
  • Lost love
  • Lost companionship
  • Lost support

Am I Eligible to Pursue a Survival Action?

While each situation is unique, the test is generally this: would the deceased have had grounds to take legal action if he or she had survived?

If the answer to this question is yes, you may have grounds for a survival action.

How is Compensation Paid Out in a Survival Action?

Surviving family members may not be eligible to pursue a survival claim, unless one of them is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, even if the family members are not the ones who bring the lawsuit, they are the ones who benefit. Compensation is paid to the estate and then distributed to the beneficiaries, often surviving spouses and children of the deceased.

Deadline for a Survival Claim

The deadline, also known as statute of limitations, for survival actions is two years from the death of the person who originally filed the claim or had grounds for legal action. Under state law, the statute of limitations for a survival action will be tolled until a personal representative for the estate is appointed or 12 months after death, whichever happens first.

Can a Wrongful Death Action and Survival Claim Be Filed at the Same Time?

Yes, both legal actions can be pursued simultaneously. Both actions would potentially provide compensation for the wide variety of damages suffered by the deceased prior to death and the loved ones left behind.

That is why it is important to talk to a licensed attorney after the death of a loved one. He or she can determine the next steps you may be able to take.

Injured and Unsure What to Do Next? Call Today for Assistance

At Phillips Law Group, we know injury victims and their loved ones often have many legal questions. We have helped thousands of clients over more than 28 years serving Arizona. Our firm also has a proven track record, having recovered hundreds of millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.

We are here to answer your questions and determine how we may be able to assist you in pursuing compensation for your damages. We have extensive knowledge of state laws on what happens when an injury victim dies before a claim is resolved.

Give us a call today. Phone: 1-800-706-3000.

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