Whenever someone dies from the negligent conduct of another person or company, the law allows for a certain type of personal injury lawsuit, known as wrongful death (by the representative of the estate, family or heirs depending on the state law that applies), as well as a lawsuit brought by the estate for the deceased’ own injuries, meaning those damages the decedent suffered prior to and as a result of the death.
The latter type of case is known as a “survival” action–i.e. the injuries of the deceased that the law recognizes survive a person’s death and allow for recovery. As a practical matter, both of these lawsuits or “actions” are invariably joined together in one case. Moreover, some states permit the recovery of punitive damages in cases of intentional malicious, or knowing wrongful conduct that resulted in the death.