The irresponsible actions of another person can cause an accident that suddenly and unexpectedly harms another. When these accident types cause fatal injuries, a victim’s surviving family members can recover compensation through a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the event that an injured victim does not survive an accident caused by the negligence of another, a wrongful death has occurred. If you are a surviving family member of a wrongful death victim, you have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for your loss.
A wrongful death claim is a type of civil action that seeks to recover financial compensation for the family members of a deceased person. In most states, only the personal representative of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim, and only if certain criteria are satisfied.
The personal representative of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim for injuries if the decedent would have had a cause of action for a personal injury claim had the injury sustained not result in death. Family members who can make a wrongful death claim include spouses of the deceased, parents who lost children, and children who lost parents. In some cases, siblings or other close relatives can file the claim.
These tragic circumstances usually require the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer so that you, as a family member of the deceased, are "made whole.” We work hard to help you obtain compensation to cover medical bills, funeral arrangements, lost income, and other costs associated with the death of your loved one.
Family members must show several different elements of their wrongful death case, including but not limited to the following:
- The defendant had a legal obligation to the deceased. People have a general legal obligation to avoid high-risk behaviors. For example, drivers must exercise reasonable caution and manufacturers have an obligation to ensure that their products are safe. Establishing a legal duty can be shown if there was a relationship, however tangential, between the deceased and the defendant.
- The obligation was breached. There is a negligence standard generally used to make this presumption. How would a reasonable person have acted in a similar situation? If they would have been more careful, the defendant is considered negligent.
- The breach or negligence directly caused the death. Did the defendant’s actions lead to the death? If yes, then a wrongful death can be claimed.
- There is something for which you can be compensated. Costs could include medical bills or pain and suffering. Wrongful death cases allow you to recover money for both economic and non-economic losses.
If you are bringing a wrongful death claim, you have the burden of proof for each of these elements. To make a strong claim, you will need the services of a knowledgeable attorney to help gather appropriate evidence for your case.
Compensation for Your Loss
If your family member died due to the negligence of another, your first priority should be contacting a wrongful death lawyer who can help you maximize your compensation.
In New York, there is a statute of limitations on the amount of time a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. Also, determining appropriate compensation for a loss can be a complex process involving many factors that establish what a case should be worth. Our experienced New York City wrongful death lawyers can lead you through this process, informing you of your rights and options.
Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action
The specific types of damages—and whether or not there is a cap on damages recoverable—may vary slightly on a state-to-state basis. In general, though, family members can recover damages for both economic and non-economic losses. Damages due to a wrongful death can include:
- Medical expenses that were paid prior to death;
- The deceased’s lost wages and benefits or other financial support that would have been provided;
- Emotional suffering;
- Loss of companionship and guidance; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Do I Have a Cause of Action?
A wrongful death action may only be pursued in the event that the deceased would not have incurred fatal injuries but for the negligent actions of another party (individual, entity, private business, etc.). During a wrongful death lawsuit, the decedent’s personal representative will have to prove that the at-fault party acted negligently. Types of accidents that may warrant a wrongful death claim include:
- Auto accident;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Subway accidents;
- Aviation accidents;
- Premises liability accidents;
- Violent crime;
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents; and
- Harm caused by a defective product or pharmaceutical.
An Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
If you have lost a loved one because of another person’s irresponsible actions, you may be able to recover damages for all economic and noneconomic losses that you have suffered. At Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC, we will review your case to determine whether or not you have a cause of action, as well as the type of damages that you may be entitled to recover. We understand the pain you are going through. We will fight for your legal rights so that you can focus on coping with your family's loss. Our wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience helping family members who have lost loved ones. Our firm is made up of experienced trial lawyers, who have won billions of dollars for our clients through tenacity, extensive legal knowledge and insight, and effective legal tactics and application of theory. We are based in Manhattan, but we also represent injured people in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Long Island, and Westchester. To learn more, contact us today to schedule your first appointment with our wrongful death lawyers.