It may be common knowledge among many in Missouri that one can indeed seek legal action when a family member or friend dies due to another’s negligence. Yet pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a complex process, with a number of unanticipated issues arising along the way.

Chief among these is often the question of what exactly can a plaintiff seek in damages in such an action. To understand the answer, one must be able to distinguish between a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action.

What is a survival action?

While many may be familiar with the concept of a wrongful death case, survival actions are often less well-known. According to the International Risk Management Institute, a survival addresses the expenses incurred by an accident victim between the time of their accident and their death. These can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Compensation for general pain and suffering

Damages such as these are often associated with a standard personal injury claim. Indeed, the term “survival action” implies that a person’s cause of action survives their death.

This is what differentiates a survival action from a wrongful death claim. Whereas the damages in a survival action compensate an accident victim, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit help to compensate those the accident victim leaves behind following their death.

Wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions in Missouri

Per the Missouri Revisor of Statutes, the law allows the immediate and extended family to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or party whose negligence resulted in their loved one’s death. The law also permits an aggrieved party to seek survival damages alongside a wrongful death claim, which shows (contrary to some opinions) that such actions are not mutually exclusive under local state law.