Survival Statute Law and Legal Definition

A survival statute preserves an injured party's right to recover for personal injury after the victim dies. The victim's estate assumes the victim's claim against the negligent party. For example, if a victim is injured in a car wreck by defendant's negligence and then files a lawsuit before dying, the victim's estate may take over the case against the defendant.

Survival statutes vary by state and generally allow a decedent's estate to sue for the damages, pain and suffering, but not wrongful death, that the decedent could have legally sued for if living. A survival action compensates the decedent's estate for various categories of damage suffered by the decedent, as contrasted with the wrongful death action which deals with the economic impact of the death on the designated beneficiaries. A survival action is not a new cause of action, but merely a continuation in the personal representative of the right of action that accrued to the decedent at common law. A survival action arises out of the original injury and not out of the death.