The loss of a loved one that would have been avoidable in the absence of the negligent or otherwise wrongful act on the part of another will leave the surviving family members with choices to make. One of those choices is whether to take legal action in response. Another choice is what kind of legal action to take if the first decision results in an affirmative answer.
In West Virginia civil law, there are two legal theories that can be brought to bear in the event of a wrongful death. One is a wrongful death lawsuit. The other is what is known as a survival action. Although the two are similar in some ways, they are distinct causes of action with distinct damages that can be sought.
The purpose of a wrongful death action is to compensate the eligible surviving relatives for losses connected with the death of their loved one. These can include things like funeral expenses, as well as less direct damages such as loss of companionship and support and loss of income expectancy.
A survival action, on the other hand, refers to causes of action that the decedent would have had against the defendant if he or she had survived, claims which "survive" the death. The damages that can be sought in a survival action are those that the decedent would have otherwise been entitled to, such as damages for medical treatment expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Wrongful death and survival actions are not exclusive, and they can be pursued together. A West Virginia personal injury law firm can help you to better understand each legal claim and how to pursue them.