What happens when someone you love is seriously injured due to the negligence of another? They may be forced to initiate legal action against the responsible party in order to be able to deal with the expenses that can arise from such an incident. Yet what if your loved one dies from their injuries while said action is still pending? Some might tell you that you can no longer pursue the case since the plaintiff (in this case, your loved one) is gone; others might say that you need to commence an altogether new claim in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. Which is right?
Interestingly enough, neither is. Section 377.30 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure states that any pending cause of action survives the death of the person that initiated it and passes on to their personal representative, who can then continue it in their stead. Thus, you can continue the pending litigation against whoever caused the incident that led to your loved one’s injuries (and eventual death) as though they were still around. Some might equate this to said action automatically being converted into a wrongful death lawsuit, yet that is not the case.
A wrongful death lawsuit is primarily meant to compensate you and the others affected by your loved one’s death for your loss. A survival action, on the other hand, remains focused on your loved one and the wrong done to them prior to their death. For this reason, the damages that arise from such an action are limited to those that your loved one would have recovered had the matter been resolved while they were still alive.