Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Mrs. Murphy (Plaintiff), sued under both the Wrongful Death Statute and the Survival Statute for injuries sustained by her husband during a fire at the Defendant, Martin Oil Co.’s (Defendant) premises. Plaintiff’s husband survived for nine days, then died from his injuries.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Damages for loss of property, loss of wages and the pain and suffering of a decedent are allowed under survival statutes when the decedent later dies from injuries which created the cause of action.
The usual method of dealing with the two causes of action is to allocate conscious pain and suffering, expenses and loss of earnings of the decedent up to the date of death to the survival statute, and to allocate the loss of benefits of the survivors to the action for wrongful death.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can a plaintiff maintain an action under the Survival Statute for loss of property, loss of wages and the pain and suffering of decedent when decedent died from the injuries, which created the cause of action?
Held. Yes. Judgment affirmed insofar as it held that an action may be maintained for loss of property and wages incurred during the interval between injury and death. Judgment reversed insofar as it held that Plaintiff could not maintain an action for decedent’s pain and suffering.
* The Survival Statute [Illinois Survival Statute, Ill.Rev.Stat.1971, ch. 3, par. 339 (1934)] is cited in support of Plaintiff’s claim for damages for the decedent’s physical and mental suffering and loss of wages for the nine day period following his injury and for the loss of his clothing worn at the time of his injury. Previously, this Court has held that the Survival Statute was intended to allow the survival of a cause of action only when a the injured party died from something other than that which caused the injuries which gave rise to the original cause of action.
* Actions under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act are limited to recovery of pecuniary losses from loss of support to the surviving spouse or next of kin. Professor Prosser has noted that the majority of jurisdictions now allow an action for personal injuries in addition to an action under wrongful death statutes [Prosser, Handbook of the Law of Torts 4th ed. at 901 (1971)]. This Court believes that decisions that allow an action for fatal injuries in addition to wrongful death are preferable to the Court’s previous holdings. Therefore, previous holdings are overruled and actions under both the Survival Statute and the Wrongful Death Statute will be allowed.
Discussion. Under English common law personal tort actions died with the decedent, but today survival statutes have modified these rules in almost every jurisdic.