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What if a Victim Passes Away While Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?


If a victim passes away due to their injuries with a New Rochelle personal injury lawsuit still pending, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may continue the lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. 

Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims

If a personal injury victim eventually passes away as a result of the at-fault party’s negligence, New York allows the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to pursue the case as a survival action.  Any compensation obtained from a survival action would act as reimbursement for the victim’s losses. 

Survival Actions

Survival actions are designed to compensate the deceased’s estate for the losses the victim suffered before their death. Another way to look at it is the compensation the victim would have recovered had they survived and been able to resolve their personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, the estate is entitled to the following: 

  • Accident-related medical expenses accrued before death.
  • Lost income up until death.
  • Conscious pain and suffering, and emotional distress the deceased experienced between the accident and their time of death.
  • Attorneys’ fees.

Conscious pain and suffering can refer to the physical pain the deceased was in due to the injuries that caused their death, as well as their mental suffering, such as feelings of fear, knowing their death was imminent. 

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim is a separate action that the estate can pursue, but it can be filed in conjunction with a survival action. The primary difference is that the deceased’s estate can recover damages from the negligent party for the survivor’s losses caused by the victim’s death. For example: 

  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Loss of financial support;
  • Loss of benefits;
  • Estate administration expenses;
  • Loss of inheritance for surviving children;
  • 9% interest on top of the damages awarded, calculated from the date of the deceased’s death. 

In New York, a family member can only pursue a wrongful death claim if they are the representative of the deceased’s estate. 

What if a Victim Passes Away for Reasons Unrelated to their Personal Injury Case?

If a personal injury victim passes away for reasons unrelated to the injuries they suffered from the negligent party, the estate would have grounds for a survival action. However, a wrongful death lawsuit would not be an option. 

What Happens if the At-Fault Party Passes Away Before a Personal Injury Claim is Settled?

When a defendant (at-fault party) to a personal injury lawsuit passes away before the case is resolved, the court will place a temporary hold on the claim. Once a personal representative of the deceased’s estate is appointed, the case can proceed against the deceased’s estate. 

Speak to a Wrongful Death Lawyer

If a loved one recently passed due to another party’s negligence while they were pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, the legal process can become extra complicated. With help from an experienced New York Wrongful Death Lawyer, you can protect your family’s rights and pursue justice on behalf of your loved one. Call (914) 993-0393 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation today.