personal injury victim dies

The incidence of auto accidents in New York has increased over the years due to growing traffic on the roads. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association shows that a majority of these automobile crashes arise from avoidable causes. Human errors such as speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol or distracted driving are unfortunately responsible for a very large number of serious car accidents.

The victim of a car accident is entitled to file a personal injury case against the party at fault for the crash. Unfortunately, it may so happen that someone who filed a car accident personal injury claim later dies due to their injuries. In such an event, the personal injury case gets converted into a wrongful death lawsuit in New York City.

How is Wrongful Death Defined in New York?

Under New York law, wrongful death is defined as death caused by an act of neglect, or default or a wrongful act that the deceased accident victim could have pursued for damages through a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived. When an accident victim dies from the injuries they suffered due to the accident, a lawsuit cannot be brought to court in their name; another party must bring the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased individual.

The different events that qualify to be labeled as neglect, or default or wrongful act include:

  • Medical malpractice incidents
  • Incidents arising out of negligence, such as car accidents
  • Intentional acts

What Events Qualify for an NYC Wrongful Death Claim?

Several circumstances may lead to the filing of a wrongful death claim in New York City. Some of the common ones include the following:

  • Car accidents that result from the party at fault driving in a reckless manner or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Truck accidents involving passenger vehicles and large trucks or tractor-trailers
  • Workplace accidents at manufacturing plants, construction sites and other hazardous occupations or work environments
  • Medical malpractice cases that arise when doctors or hospitals do not provide the adequate care, or due to errors during anesthesia or surgery, or misdiagnosis, wrong prescriptions and use of defective medical devices or equipment
  • Product liability cases in which someone is killed due to defective tools or appliances
  • Crimes of violence such as homicide or assault or death that occurs due to crime

What are the Elements Necessary to Claim Wrongful Death Damages in New York?

Under the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Code, establishing a wrongful death claim requires one to produce evidence of these five elements:

  • Death
  • That the death was caused due to the negligent party’s wrong conduct
  • That the deceased victim could have pursued this cause of action in court if they had not died
  • That there are one or more persons in the family of the victim who have suffered a loss due to the death of the accident victim
  • That there are damages that can be recovered by the victim’s estate

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

It is undoubtedly the deceased victim’s family members that are the ones most affected by their death. However, they are not eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in New York. Under New York law it is only the personal representative or the executor of the estate of the deceased individual who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court. However, if a family member is also the executor or representative of the deceased victim’s estate, they may file a wrongful death claim.

What Damages Can be Recovered in Wrongful Death Claims in NYC?

The damages one may recover in a wrongful death claim will vary based on the specifics of the case. However, in general, it is known that damages may be awarded for the following losses in cases of wrongful death in New York.

  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Expenses related to the medical and nursing care provided during the final illness or injury of the deceased person
  • The conscious pain and suffering that the victim underwent due to their final illness or injury
  • The financial loss incurred due to a loss of wages in the period between the victim’s illness or injury and their death
  • The quantum of services and support that the deceased provided to the members of their family
  • The value of care, guidance and nurturing the deceased provided to the surviving children
  • The inheritance loss suffered by the deceased’s surviving children
  • A figure of 9 percent interest on the amount awarded as damages, calculated from the day when death occurred

What are the Time Limits for Filing a New York Wrongful Death Claim?

Under New York’s statute of limitations, there are definite time frames within which damages claims must be brought. For wrongful death claims, this period is generally two years from the date when the accident victim died. After this period, no wrongful death claims will be allowed.

There is no exception to this two year period even if the executor of the deceased person is a child or in any way incapable of legally filing the claim. Instead, in such cases, the guardian of the child or the incapable executor is allowed to file the wrongful death claim.

However, there may be exceptions to this two-year limit as follows:

  • In medical malpractice cases that turn fatal for the victim, the statute of limitations is 2.5 years from the date of their death.
  • In case the event that caused the death has led to a criminal case too against the party at fault for the death, the statute of limitations will be one year from the date of the end of the criminal case.

How Can You Prove a Wrongful Death Case in NYC?

To be able to recover compensation in a New York City wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to establish fault of the other party. To be able to do this, you will have to prove that:

  • The defendant was legally obliged to exercise due care towards the deceased
  • The party at fault breached this legal obligation and behaved in a negligent manner
  • The death of the victim was a direct outcome of the negligence or intentional actions of another person.
  • There was economic and non-economic loss you suffered due to the wrongful death of the victim
  • If the victim had survived the accident, they could have brought a personal injury lawsuit and
  • The estate of the victim is entitled to receive damages that resulted from the accident.

If you bring a wrongful death claim, the burden of proving these crucial elements is on you. This can be quite a complex task for someone who does not know the ways that legal systems function. That is why it makes sense to engage the services of an expert wrongful death claims attorney in New York to handle your lawsuit.

An important aspect to consider when bringing a wrongful death claim is the employment status of the deceased at the time of death. Even in cases where the deceased person was unemployed at the time of their death, it is possible to claim compensation for other damages such as their pain and suffering before death and the loss of parental guidance and companionship caused by their death.

Who Receives the Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases?

Under New York laws, the settlement funds are distributed as per the following guidelines.

  • If the deceased has a spouse and children, the spouse will get $50,000 and 50 percent of the settlement balance. The remaining 50 percent is divided among the children equally.
  • If there are no children, the entire settlement amount goes to the spouse.
  • If there is no spouse, but there are children, the settlement gets equally divided among them.
  • In the event of the deceased having neither a spouse nor children, the entire settlement amount is given to their parents.

Get in Touch with an Experienced NYC Wrongful Death Claim Attorney Today

Losing a loved one to a fatal accident can be devastating and cause immense emotional pain that may take years to heal. Under such overwhelming circumstances, it can be difficult to find the energy to deal with a lawsuit. However, it is important to pursue legal action to obtain the compensation to which the law entitles you, and also to make the negligent party pay for their fault.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, our compassionate wrongful death lawyers have helped several families deal with the upheaval caused by losing a loved one in accidents. When you sign us on, we will take care of all the work that goes into building a strong wrongful death claim, so that you do not need to find the mental energy to deal with these aspects, and can, instead focus on healing from your hurt.

To know more about how we can help you recover the damages due to you, call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.


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