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What Is a Survival Action in Georgia?

Devastated woman after wrongful death of husband.

Devastated woman after wrongful death of husband.Did you lose a loved one in a sudden and unexpected accident in Georgia? Losing someone close to you is never easy. Grieving can be even more challenging if your loved one’s death was due to someone else’s negligent or wrongful act.

In addition to a wrongful death claim, a survival action may be relevant to your family’s case. Under Georgia law, a survival action is an extension of a legal claim associated with a deceased person. A survival action seeks damages for the deceased’s losses due to the fatal accident.

What Is a Survival Action in Georgia?

A survival action is a type of personal injury claim for a victim who dies from injuries caused by another party. Unlike a wrongful death claim, survival actions aim to recover compensation for the harm suffered by the victims themselves rather than their surviving loved ones.

An experienced attorney can help you understand what a survival action involves and how it differs from the wrongful death claim you and your family may wish to pursue.

At Butler Kahn, our compassionate trial attorneys focus solely on representing the rights and interests of injury victims and their families. We strive to provide attentive service to each client we represent. For that reason, we limit the number of cases we take so we can devote the time, care, and resources your case deserves.

When filing a survival action or wrongful death claim in Georgia after losing a loved one, you need a lawyer with the right skills, experience, and resources to handle your case. The team at the Butler Kahn is ready to help. Contact us for a free consultation when you are ready to discuss your situation.

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What Is a Survival Action?

Under Georgia law, a survival action is a legal claim that allows surviving family members to pursue financial recovery of the deceased’s losses before their death. A survival action can hold the responsible party accountable for their negligent or intentional acts that caused the decedent’s death.

A survival action is often considered an extension of the personal injury claim the deceased could have brought if they survived. Survival actions get their name because they “survive” the decedent and can still be pursued against the at-fault party responsible for the decedent’s injuries and death.

In a survival action, compensation may include money for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. As a result, survival actions are usually filed when a decedent is not immediately killed by accident. Instead, they live long enough to incur losses due to an ultimately fatal injury or condition inflicted by someone else’s negligence.

Who Can Bring a Survival Action?

In Georgia, the survival action statute states that a decedent’s estate representative must file a survival action. That is typically the estate’s executor or an administrator.

In most cases, the court will appoint a family member of the decedent to serve as the estate executor or administrator. The representative of the decedent’s estate must bring the survival action because the claim belongs to the decedent. The claim becomes an asset of the decedent’s estate.

How Does a Survival Action Differ from a Wrongful Death Claim?

Often, wrongful death claims and survival actions are discussed together. However, the two types of actions are legally distinct. The most significant differences between wrongful death claims and survival actions include the kinds of compensation recoverable in each action, as well as how each claim is pursued and resolved.

How Do Damages Differ Between the Two Types Of Actions?

A wrongful death claim seeks to provide compensation to the surviving family members. This compensation is meant to offer financial recovery for the surviving family members’ losses incurred due to their loved one’s passing, including financial and intangible personal losses.

Compensation in a wrongful death claim may cover:

  • The loss of the decedent’s future anticipated financial contributions to the family and household
  • The loss of employment benefits that the decedent provided the family, such as health insurance, retirement and pension benefits, or educational benefits
  • The value of the services that the decedent performed in the household, such as home repairs or lawn maintenance
  • The loss of the decedent’s affection, care, society, support, and guidance that they provided to family members
  • Loss of consortium, which compensates a surviving spouse for the loss of the decedent’s intimacy and companionship

A survival action compensates for the losses the decedent and the decedent’s estate experienced. That may include financial recovery for:

  • Costs of medical treatment for the decedent’s final injury or illness that caused their death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income from missed work between the accident and the decedent’s death
  • Conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before their death

How Does Georgia Law Handle Settlements with Each Type of Case?

Wrongful death claims and survival actions greatly differ in how the compensation is distributed. In a wrongful death claim, compensation is distributed directly to the eligible surviving family members, usually a surviving spouse and surviving children or a decedent’s surviving parents.

Compensation recovered in a survival action is instead paid to the decedent’s estate. Those funds are then distributed according to the decedent’s will or according to Georgia’s intestacy laws if the decedent died without a will. As a result, compensation recovered in a survival action may be used to pay the decedent’s debts or the estate’s expenses.

Any funds that are distributed to beneficiaries or heirs may also be subject to inheritance taxes. Compensation in a wrongful death claim is typically exempt from taxation.

Our Survival Action Lawyers Georgia Are Ready to Discuss Your Situation

Part of the legal team of Butler Law firmAt Butler Kahn, we believe that families who’ve lost loved ones due to negligence deserve qualified and compassionate legal representation. We understand what you’re going through, and we want to provide knowledgeable legal counsel as you work to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of this unexpected loss.

Our compassionate survival action lawyers are ready to advise you on the best steps to seek answers, justice, and fair compensation for you and your family. Contact us for a free, no-obligation case review when you are ready to explore your legal options.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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