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Differences Between Survival Action and Wrongful Death

Posted in Wrongful Death

If someone you love loses his or her life in a traumatic accident in New Mexico, you and your family may qualify for financial compensation through a wrongful death claim, a survival action or both. Learning the differences and nuances of both types of civil lawsuits can help you and your family understand your rights and seek justice during this difficult time.

What Is a Survival Action?

As the name implies, a survival action is a type of civil claim that “survives” the death of the injured accident victim. It is used to pursue financial compensation for the damages the deceased individual (known as the decedent) likely would have been able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit, had he or she survived.

The purpose of a survival action is to hold one or more parties responsible for the losses suffered by the decedent. These losses may include the decedent’s pain and suffering from the time of the accident to the time of death, medical costs and hospital bills for the final injury or illness, and lost wages from the time of injury to the date of death. A successful survival action in New Mexico can provide the decedent’s estate with compensation to cover these losses.

A survival action is typically filed by the personal representative put in charge of administering the decedent’s estate. In this way, they are similar to wrongful death claims in New Mexico. Although some states allow surviving family members to file wrongful death claims themselves, New Mexico requires the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring the claim. This person may be appointed by the decedent’s estate plan or the courts.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

While a survival action focuses on the losses of the deceased individual, a wrongful death claim centers around the losses of surviving family members. A wrongful death claim recognizes the emotional and financial losses associated with a sudden death in the family. It provides an opportunity for surviving family members to file a claim seeking financial compensation from one or more responsible parties.


The damages that may be available in a wrongful death claim in New Mexico include:

  • Reasonable funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages, employment benefits and inheritance
  • Loss of the value of household services provided by the decedent
  • Loss of consortium, meaning the decedent’s care, love, guidance and companionship
  • Surviving loved ones’ emotional pain, suffering, distress and mental anguish

A wrongful death lawsuit can help ease the devastating financial consequences of an unexpected loss of a family member, such as the death of the primary earner in the household. While no amount of money could ever be equal to a human life, a successful settlement or verdict could help a struggling family cover related expenses and plan for the future with greater peace of mind.

Which Type of Claim Is Right for You?

You and your family may be eligible for compensation through one or both types of claims in New Mexico: a survival action and a wrongful death lawsuit. Discuss your specific circumstances with an attorney at The Fine Law Firm to understand your rights. The statute of limitations, or deadline for filing, is three years for both types of cases in New Mexico. Do not wait to contact us for a free case evaluation.