What's the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Case and a Survivorship Case

When a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence, it can be a stressful and emotional time. However, it is important to consider that the negligent person or entity may be held responsible for the death they caused. In New York, damages can be recovered in two causes of action, survivorship and wrongful death. It is important to understand the differences between the two and what damages can be recovered.



A survivorship claim compensates the estate for the pain and suffering of the deceased person. Any damages collected as part of a survivorship action will pass through the decedent’s will and not necessarily go to the family members. The statute of limitations for a survivorship action is three years from the accident or one year from the death. The damages will compensate for pre-death pain and suffering, and it must be established that decedent experienced consciousness after the event that caused their death. There is specific evidence that can be used to establish consciousness.


Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim compensates a decedent’s survivors for any economic losses they may have sustained as a result of the death. The survivors must have sustained a pecuniary loss as a result of the death. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are solely for the benefit of the survivors and do not pass through the decedent’s estate. Damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death claim include things such as loss of support, medical bills, and any funeral expenses the survivors were required to pay. A number of factors are used to establish a loss of support, including the age of the decedent, the health of the decedent at the time of the injury, the decedent’s earning capacity, and the age and life expectancy of the survivors. No damages can be awarded for the grief and suffering sustained by the survivors.


Contact an Accident Attorney

If your loved one has died as the result of someone’s negligence, you should consult with an experienced accident attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have been helping the victims of wrongful death for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.