California Changes the Law on Survival Actions

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Beginning January 1, 2022, survival actions – a cause of action that allows a decedent’s personal representative or successor in interest to pursue recovery as if the decedent had survived – will change dramatically, allowing the decedent’s estate to recover damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement when the law previously did not allow such recovery. Senate Bill Number 447 amends the current California Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P.”) §337.34 to allow the additional damages and will greatly increase the costs to settle and resolve survival actions.

In terms of timing, the law will apply to new cases filed on January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2025, and to actions or proceedings that were granted trial preference pursuant to C.C.P. § 36 before January 1, 2022. Whether this law will survive January 1, 2026, and beyond is yet to be determined, but for the interim, the effect on survival actions is expected to be considerable.