Biofabrication commonly involves the use of liquid droplets to transport cells to the printed structure. However, the viability of the cells after impact is poorly controlled and understood, hampering applications including cell spraying, inkjet bioprinting, and laser-assisted cell transfer. Here, we present an analytical model describing the cell viability after impact as a function of the cell-surrounding droplet characteristics. The model connects (1) the cell survival as a function of cell membrane elongation, (2) the membrane elongation as a function of the cell-containing droplet size and velocity, and (3) the substrate properties. The model is validated by cell viability measurements in cell spraying, which is a method for biofabrication and used for the treatment of burn wounds. The results allow for rational optimization of any droplet-based cell deposition technology, and we include practical suggestions to improve the cell viability in cell spraying.