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Steven M. Lee, PC

Q:
Can I pursue a survival action claim for pain and suffering in a maritime wrongful death case?

A:

When a maritime accident proves to be fatal, the cost is much higher than a single life. A fatal accident causes the victim’s loved ones to lose a sibling, a spouse, a child, a parent, or a friend, as well as everything that person brought to their lives. In a single instant, one life is lost, and dozens of lives are affected.

To help relieve some of the pain caused by a maritime fatality, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) covers wrongful death claims where the accident happens at least three miles from shore. Under the DOHSA, surviving family members and loved ones can recover losses that the deceased would have provided if he would have lived. These losses include:

  • Loss of income. Since the victim can no longer provide for his family, the DOHSA may award the surviving family with an adjusted income compensation.
  • Loss of benefits. If the deceased’s employment provided family benefits, a wrongful death claim might be able to secure additional compensation to replace the costs of medical bills. Such a claim should also cover the funeral and burial expenses of the victim.
  • Loss of care and companionship. An argument can also be made to receive financial compensation for the pain and suffering caused to the surviving loved ones for their loss. It’s difficult to put a price on, but emotional pain and suffering is definitely relevant in a wrongful death claim.

The DOHSA provides the opportunity for you to receive compensation after a loved one’s death. However, it fails to provide for a survival lawsuit, if the accident fails to cause immediate death and leads to a painfully prolonged departure.

A Survival Action: Compensation for the Suffering Between Injury and Impending Death

The omission of survival action from DOHSA coverage doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no way to recover additional compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, there may be a compelling way to recover these damages through the regular, background law. This option is known as a “Survival Wrongful Death Action.”

A survival action within a wrongful death claim offers an opportunity for surviving loved ones to pursue financial compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the victim during the time between his accident and his ultimate passing. This action can include compensation arguments for:

  • Ongoing legal disputes. If the victim was pursuing an injury claim or had the right to pursue an injury claim but died of his injuries before a settlement was agreed upon, a surviving relative can take his place as the plaintiff.
  • Damages caused to victim’s estate. If the victim’s estate suffered as a result of his death, surviving family members can pursue compensation for recovery of damages. Compensation can include lost wages, and any financial disputes or unpaid bills related to the estate.
  • Pain and suffering. If the victim’s injuries affected his remaining quality of life, surviving loved ones may pursue additional compensation on his behalf. This compensation can cover the victim’s extended medical treatments and pain as well as any damages loved ones suffered as a result of this time in between life and death.

Attorney Assurance to Help You Win Your Claim

The best way to ensure that you explore all of your options for compensation is to speak with a lawyer. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can do many great things for your case, not the least of which is to help you recover survival action damages and other similar damages. Additional attorney advantages include minimizing mistakes, standing up to the insurance companies, and helping you structure your finances while your suit gets started.

To speak with a local maritime attorney who has pursued these types of claims before, call our offices today at 800-232-3711 to speak with Steve Lee about your loved one’s accident. We’ll be happy to schedule a FREE consultation at a time that is convenient for you.

We know you’ve lost so much already, don’t throw away your rights by missing the chance to secure a claim. Call now and allow us to help you gain back a little bit of what you lost.

Steven M. Lee
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