With Roundup linked to serious illness like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, it's possible that a plaintiff who has brought (or was considering) a lawsuit might die before the case can be filed or resolved.
As with other types of personal injury cases, the death of a plaintiff in a Roundup case does not preclude the recovery of a settlement or a court judgment finding the defendant liable for the deceased person's harm. In this kind of situation, the plaintiff's estate and/or family can initiate or continue a claim, and be awarded damages through a survival action or a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the realm of personal injury law, survival actions are those that let the plaintiff's estate recover damages that the plaintiff would have personally received if he or she were still alive. So, compensation in survival cases is awarded for things such as the plaintiff's pain and suffering lost income, cost of medical treatment, and more. These damages span the period of time beginning with the plaintiff's diagnosis of a Roundup illness, and lasting until his or her death. Get details on damages in a Roundup case.
Unlike survival actions, which entitle the plaintiff's estate to damages that the deceased person could have recovered if he or she were still alive, wrongful death lawsuits are intended to compensate family members of the deceased who have suffered their own distinct losses as a result of the death.
Specifics vary from state to state, but damages in a Roundup-related wrongful death case typically include:
It's important to note that wrongful death actions in Roundup cases can only be brought if the cause of death stems from the plaintiff's Roundup-linked illness. If the cause of death is unrelated to Roundup, then a wrongful death action would not be appropriate.
Wrongful death and survival actions are typically brought by those who shared a close relationship with the plaintiff, though state law may differ in terms of exactly who is permitted to bring these actions. All states agree that a spouse, parent(s) of a minor, and minor child(ren) can file suit and recover damages for their loss of a spouse, child or parent.
However, states may differ regarding whether other types of relationships qualify. So, parents suing on behalf of adult children, adult children suing on behalf of their parents, adult siblings suing on behalf of siblings, or extended relatives such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins may or may not be permitted to bring suit, depending on the laws of the applicable state. The general rule is that the closer the relationship, the more likely it is that a lawsuit will be permitted. Learn more about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In both survival and wrongful death actions, the representative(s) of the plaintiff's estate must prove the same elements of the case when it comes to the defendant's liability, and meet the same burden of proof that the deceased person would need to meet if he or she were alive.
Some successful theories of liability in Roundup cases include defective design, failure to warn, negligent design and negligent failure to warn. Learn more about what must be proven in a Roundup case.
Ultimately, both survival and wrongful death actions are governed by state law. States may differ in terms of who is entitled to represent the deceased person's estate in a survival or wrongful death suit, as explained above. They may also vary with respect to the types and amounts of damages permitted.
For a full understanding of the law as it applies to your situation, and an overview of your options, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney. Get tips on finding the right lawyer for you and your Roundup case.