Losing a loved one is devastating, especially when the loss comes unexpectedly. In addition to the emotional distress, a sudden death may cause financial hardship as well, especially if the victim was the sole or primary financial provider for his or her family. Fortunately, if someone’s negligence or wrongdoing causes another’s death, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death suit. The New York state wrongful death laws allow for surviving family members to recover damages for the loss of their loved one.
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the wrongful or negligent conduct of another that would have given rise to a legal cause of action if the victim had not died. The death must result in damages that can be recovered by a surviving family member that is eligible to seek recovery for the wrongful death of their loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits based on personal injury claims are very common in New York. There are many causes of wrongful death claims, some of the most frequent include:
- Automobile accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Construction site accidents;
- Workplace accidents;
- Catastrophic accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Premise liability accidents;
- Boating or watercraft accidents;
- Death resulting from the intentional actions of another;
- Airplane accidents;
- Medical malpractice;
- Defective products; and
- Other torts.
Who Has Grounds?
A sudden and untimely death of a loved one is a horrible thing to endure. You will miss your loved one terribly, and are left to grieve and move on with your life as best as you can. Wrongful death claims are meant to recover damages for surviving members of the decedent’s immediate family. Thus, only the decedent’s heirs may receive wrongful death compensation in New York. This includes spouses, children, parents, and sometimes other relatives, such as siblings, of the decedent.
Restrictions are placed on who may seek recovery through a wrongful death action. Unfortunately, distant relatives, such as cousins or grandparents; girlfriends or boyfriends; and friends of the deceased are often left with no legal recourse when their loved one is wrongfully killed.
Additionally, the death must have been caused by another’s negligence or wrongful act in order for a wrongful death suit to proceed. Generally, a family will have a wrongful death case if the victim would have had a personal injury case, had he or she survived.
Wrongful death suits compensate families for that economic and noneconomic losses that they suffer because of the death of their loved one. Wrongful death damages can take a number of different forms, and it must be shown that surviving family members have suffered a pecuniary (i.e., financial or economic) loss as a result of the wrongful death of their loved one. Damages for these losses can be sought to compensate the surviving family members. This can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses;
- Funeral costs;
- Burial expenses;
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to his or her death;
- Loss of financial support; and
- Loss of companionship.
Additional damages can be sought for things like loss of wages and benefits provided by the deceased, the value of parental nurturing and care, the lost value of the deceased’s support and services, and lost inheritance suffered by the surviving children of the deceased. Surviving family members are not eligible to seek damages for their own pain and suffering resulting from the death of their loved one. It is important to consider every aspect of your potential damages in a wrongful death case so that you can seek the maximum amount of wrongful death damages that you are entitled to.
Wrongful death actions have a two year statute of limitations in New York, meaning that surviving family members must bring their wrongful death suit within two years of the death of their loved one. Failure to bring the wrongful death action to court will result in a bar against making the claim.
We understand the difficult situation you are going through as you file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one. If a member of your family has died in an accident, an attorney can help you determine whether you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Please contact the compassionate and experienced wrongful death lawyers at Ask Your Lawyer to schedule a free consultation. You should not have to go through this difficult time alone. Let us help.
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