Unexpectedly losing a loved one is one of the toughest experiences to undergo. It can be emotionally and financially difficult for family members. It is even worse knowing that it could have been prevented if not for the negligence and wrongful actions of others.

If you’re thinking of a wrongful death claim in New York, you need to get your ducks in a row beforehand. Get the help of a Law Firm to determine whether or not your case constitutes a wrongful death claim – and if it does, pursue the maximum available compensation in court.

What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim comes into play when someone dies in an accident due to the negligence or intention to harm by an individual, company, or any other party. 

Under the New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law, surviving family members can pursue compensation for the monetary injury caused by the wrongful death of a loved one. 

Do I Have Grounds For a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death claims can cover all sorts of fatal accidents, including automobile accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, etc. An individual can be held liable, such as in the case of medical malpractice. However, companies and organizations can also be held responsible, like in the event of a product liability lawsuit. Like in many cases, “common law” negligence principles apply.

The victim’s family must prove that the responsible party failed to act as cautiously as expected to have grounds for a wrongful death claim. If this party disregarded their duty of care, then they are said to have acted negligently.

The victim’s family must also prove that this party’s negligence was the direct cause of their loved one’s death. Furthermore, the victim’s death must have caused both economic and non-economic injuries to the family. If the victim’s family has these three rudiments, then they may very well have the grounds to file for wrongful death.

How Do I Prove Wrongful Death?

Although cases are handled differently, New York has a specific statute that determines someone’s ability to bring a wrongful death claim. The law in New York requires these elements to be proved to establish a wrongful death claim:

  • A wrongful act, neglect or default by the defendant
  • These negligent actions caused the victim’s death
  • There is a surviving family member or relatives; likely to be a spouse or children
  • These surviving family members are suffering a monetary injury due to the death

If you are missing any of these elements, then you might be looking at a different kind of lawsuit.

Who May Sue For Wrongful Death In NY?

New York only allows immediate family members to make a wrongful death claim. This could include:

  • The decedent’s child
  • The spouse of the decedent
  • Parent, and
  • The personal representative for the decedent’s estate

This personal representative is the relative who brings the lawsuit and must be court appointed. Also, other family members like brothers, sisters, and cousins have a right to sue for wrongful death in New York in the event that they are named the guardian or personal representative of the deceased. However, this right may be revoked if there is surviving kin as mentioned earlier.

Can I File a Different Claim For Pain And Suffering?

You likely don’t have to file a separate suit because wrongful death suits in New York are thought to be a combination of two types of lawsuits i.e., wrongful death, and pain and suffering. These two will be joined together for judicial economy.

New York doesn’t extinguish claims for pain and suffering even if the person dies. These claims will survive the death of the victim and will be legally transferred to the decedent’s estate and later distributed to the decedent’s estate beneficiaries. These beneficiaries may or may not be the victim’s family members.

Pain and suffering claims are serious and shouldn’t be disregarded. The courts will use the length and nature of any suffering to settle damages. In cases where the length and nature of your loved one’s sufferings are being interrogated, a skilled wrongful death attorney in Rochester will likely hire forensic medical experts to help prove the case and recoup this compensation.

What Examples of Claims Qualify For Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death attorney could help you lessen your financial burden. A wrongful death claim might include one of these common factors leading to the loss of a loved one:

  • Product liability deaths
  • Premises liability deaths
  • Car accident deaths
  • Medical malpractice deaths
  • Nursing home deaths
  • Workplace deaths

Limitations for Filing a New York Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim in New York must be filed within two years of the date of a loved one’s death.

In addition, New York law does not provide absolute liability. If it emerges that the deceased negligently contributed to his or her injuries leading to death, the defendant will only be liable for damages proportionate to the defendant’s fault.

Can I Get Compensation For Emotional Distress Following The Death of A Loved One?

Unfortunately, New York does not allow monetary damages due to emotional distress following the loss of a loved one. This is a difficult limitation New Yorkers have had to abide by when it comes to legal matters involving death.

However, you may receive compensation for emotional distress if – as a family member – you were present or observed the accident that caused the death of your loved one. If you were in this “zone of danger,” then you may be entitled to emotional distress caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Damages in New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The courts in New York may award the family compensation for:

  • Loss of financial support and services
  • Funeral costs
  • Medical bills
  • Punitive damages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of future inheritance

Include a Trusted Legal Representative to Your Team

If you are contemplating a wrongful death claim, you shouldn’t be thinking of fighting it alone. You may still be trying to process this traumatic incident while managing your pain. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one, it can still help you find some kind of closure.

Due to the statute of limitations and New York’s nuanced wrongful death laws, families of deceased victims must seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Let a personal injury attorney in Rochester, NY, help you and discuss your options with you.

At Kelly White Donofrio LLP, we’ll help you through this legal journey. Our experienced personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping victim’s families handle their claims promptly. Contact our office today by calling 585-232-1415 to speak to one of our wrongful death attorneys in New York.