You may already be familiar with the concept of a wrongful death action that can arise when the family of a loved one files a lawsuit against an individual or company that caused the death or contributed to it. In Georgia, those allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit including the spouse of the decedent or, if there is no spouse then the children of the decedent; if neither a surviving spouse or children exist, then the parents of the decedent can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
There is a second, related cause of action to wrongful death that you may be less familiar with, survival action. This is a lawsuit that is also brought in connection with the death of a loved one, based on the concept that he or she would have had a cause of action had he or she survived.
A key distinction between a wrongful death action and a survival action is that although a wrongful death action is brought by family members, the right to file a survival action lawsuit is vested in the estate of the deceased, meaning that only the personal representative of the deceased can initiate the lawsuit.
Another characteristic of survival actions is that even if the alleged wrongdoer dies before the lawsuit can be initiated, it can be initiated against the estate of that person, as long as the suit can be timely filed (for example, within the applicable statute of limitations). A personal injury attorney familiar with both of these causes of action can assist you in determining if either or both may be available and how to proceed if they are.