Orange County California

Trust Attorneys


Does my loved one’s claim in a civil lawsuit terminate if he passed away during the proceedings? As the person in charge of settling your loved one’s estate, you may be faced with the task of stepping in to represent your loved one in an ongoing civil lawsuit. Whether your loved one was the defendant or the plaintiff, the damages that are ultimately awarded may be reduced as a result of the death. It is your job as the personal representative to ensure that these claims are handled properly.

Damages That May Be Reduced

Generally, lawsuits will survive the death of a party. That means that the estate will step in as the defendant or plaintiff in place of the decedent. In some cases, however, certain claims made in the case will not survive. Following are two such examples:

  1. Punitive damages. Claims that are made based on punitive damages rely on the legal concept of preventing future harm. If punitive damages are sought against a defendant who has passed away, they may no longer be available. A claim against your loved one for punitive damages may therefore terminate upon the passing away of the defendant.
  1. Pain and suffering. Claims that are seeking damages for pain and suffering may also terminate upon the death of the plaintiff in the lawsuit. Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate a plaintiff for his ongoing pain as a result of the cause of action. If your loved one passed away during the lawsuit, theoretically his pain has now ended.

Does my loved one’s claim in a civil lawsuit terminate if he passed away during the proceedings? As you can see, for certain types of claims, the amount of damages that the estate may receive or be obligated to pay may be reduced as a result of your loved one’s death. These issues are often complex but an experienced attorney can alleviate much of the burden of trying to determine the best course of action. Are you ready to learn more? Start a live chat with us today!

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