What is a Survival Action?
In California, any conscious pain and suffering of the decedent give the heirs the ability to recover in what is known as a "survival action." A survival action can be a cause of action in addition to the wrongful death action.
Sometimes, there are reasons, however, not to bring a survival action. Suppose, for example, that the wrongdoer had only a $100,000 insurance policy and the decedent incurred over $100,000 in medical bills paid by Medicare. If a survival action is brought by the heirs in addition to a wrongful death action, Medicare will want all its money back from the recovery. If the heirs bring only wrongful death action, Medicare will have no claim on this.