What is a Survivorship Action?

Transcript: Hello. This is Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub. Today’s video discusses what’s called a survivorship action. You’ve probably heard of the term wrongful death, or a wrongful death lawsuit. If a person negligently causes the ultimate injury–which is death–the survivors can sue, and that kind of action is called a wrongful death action. But if an injured person dies from a condition totally unrelated to the injury-incident which caused the injury which they were going to sue about, what happens then? This issue happens all too frequently, and usually the circumstance is we’re trying to get ahold of a client that has not contacted us recently, and we call an emergency contact number only to find that the client has died from some unrelated condition, such as a terminal illness. Other times, there are situations where a person who has been injured has simply not gotten around to hiring an attorney yet, and then they die before the two years statute of limitations expires, and their relatives reach out to us asking, “What can we do because we have all of these bills that need to be paid?” If an injured person dies from an unrelated cause, such as old age or a terminal illness, the action does not die with them. Their injury action is called a survivorship action, and the survivors can proceed to open an estate, file a claim, and pursue it in the name of the estate of the individual who has passed away. In a survivorship suit, the survivors can ask a jury to award all of the damages that would have been awarded had the injured person not died of unrelated causes. Both survivorship lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits are supervised by an estate judge or what they call a probate judge. In such cases, judges deal with issues such as distribution of lawsuit proceeds, they also deal with issues of whether creditors can make claims against deceased individuals’ survivorship/wrongful death estate. Judges also deal with issues such as whether creditors can make claims against the proceeds of the survivorship estate. We’ve handled many survivorship lawsuits over the years, as well as many wrongful death lawsuits. If you have questions about the topic of suvivorship lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit, please contact one of our attorneys today. We will be happy to make time to talk to you about your questions.