Wrongful death claims are centered on compensating survivors who were close to the decedent for the losses they suffered as a result of the death. The people who can be compensated, often called beneficiaries, vary from state to state, but, generally, are outlined in the state’s wrongful death statute. The losses themselves may include loss of financial support or include loss of companionship or sexual consortium.
Survival actions focus on the damages, medical expenses, disability, and medical expenses, suffered by a decedent before death. A representative of the estate of the decedent essentially takes the place of the wrongful death victim and makes a claim on their behalf. Note that depending on the state and the appropriate law pain and suffering may not be compensated under this type of claim. The other potential issue is that the estate itself may be liable for medical debt, costs, or expenses and any recovery may have to be distributed to third parties to pay for outstanding debts. These restrictions do not apply to wrongful death claims.