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19

Compensating Somebody: Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

INTRODUCTION

We think of “the olden days” as full of dangers, and thank our stars that we live in a “civilized” era. But no one can emerge from the course in Torts without a sobering sense of how dangerous industrialized society is. A few generations back, the major risks were natural ones: disease, natural disasters, and unruly fellow creatures. Today, these have been surpassed by human contrivances, especially that very mixed blessing, the internal combustion engine.

Too often, the products of human genius cause catastrophic injury and untimely death. This chapter addresses two distinct but related types of claims arising from such deaths. First is the wrongful death claim, which is a claim for damages for tortiously causing the death of another. Second is the survival claim, which is an action brought by the representative of the estate of a deceased person (called in legal parlance a “decedent”) for injuries suffered by the decedent before her death.

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