When an accident happens, it can bring complications for the victim and their families. It is even more when the victim dies in the act or after several days or months when hospitalized with severe injuries.
A New York, wrongful death lawyer can help you if you are suffering from a loss of a family member as a result of the negligent behavior of another person. Since the law changes in every state, New York has some differences from other states.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death happens when an individual dies in an accident caused by the negligent acts of a third party, recklessness, intentional act, or misconduct of another individual, company, or entity. Wrongful death comes with a civil claim brought by the surviving family members or representatives of the deceased person against the responsible party.
New York Laws and Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims come from an accident caused by another person. In New York State, some factors of claim to be challenging is a reason for you to get a wrongful death lawyer in New York.
Statute of limitation (deadline):
Generally, in New York, there is a gap of 2 years since the incident happened to file a lawsuit. The deceased's representative will need to file the case before the second anniversary of the dead.
There are some exceptions to this rule, though. If the responsible party is facing a criminal charge, the deadline of 2 years extends to 1 year after the criminal case concludes. Commonly, criminal cases can take longer, and therefore they can delay the wrongful death case, which is a civil case.
It is essential to know this and have all the paperwork done and every piece of evidence ready. It can be the case that the personal representative is underage; in such cases, New York laws do not extend more than two years; what can happen is that the legal guardian will need to file a lawsuit on behalf of the minor.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unlike other states, New York requires that the personal representative makes a wrongful death claim for the deceased person.
Section 5-4.1 Estates, Powers & Trusts (EPT) CHAPTER 17-B, ARTICLE 5, PART 4 claims about the actions that the personal representative must do. The identity of this personal representative is usually included in the decedent's last will or testament.
Therefore this person can be someone not related to the family in charge of filing the lawsuit. The award for the case will be held by this representative, who then has the duty of distributing the compensation to the beneficiary.
The decedent's representative must follow the intestacy statutes to distribute monetary compensation to the proper beneficiaries. These statutes give priority to the following people:
- The spouse: If the decedent person was married and the marriage did not have any children, all of the monetary compensation goes to the spouse.
- Spouse and Children: If the decedent person was married and had children within the marriage, then the distribution is different, $50000, and ½ of the estate balance goes to the spouse. The remainder will be divided equally among the children as long as they are in the same generation.
- Children: If the decedent did not have a spouse but had children, the whole compensation goes to the children, divided equally as long as they are in the same generation.
- Parents: If the decedent had no children and was not married, the monetary compensation goes to the surviving parents, one or both.
- Parent's children: If the decedent has no children, no spouse, and his/her parents are dead, the beneficiary could be brothers, sisters, or their children (niece/nephew).
When there are children of different generations, like grandchildren of the decedent, there is an equal share of these people. For instance, if the decedent was a grandfather, and the beneficiaries were his two children, they would receive equal monetary compensation. If one or both of them have children too, and they predeceased the victim, then the financial compensation will be shared by their children, grandchildren of the instate victim.
Pecuniary Loss Statute in NY
The financial loss statute grants the legal representative of an estate the authority to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. Acting on behalf of the deceased person, this representative must establish monetary loss, which encompasses the financial support the decedent's immediate family lost due to the absence of income.
The claim can be made for the economic loss that the decedent's spouse and dependent children suffer after the loss of the household provider. It is not limited to the loss of earnings but to all economic losses like the loss of services provided to the deceased person's spouse and the deprivation of parental care and guidance experienced by the decedent's children, which are significant aspects considered in a wrongful death case.
Elements of Wrongful Death Claims
The law requires some elements to be present to file a claim for wrongful death.
- Death of a person
- Negligent or reckless behavior by another party
- The cause of action that the deceased person could have pursued in court if they were alive.
- The survival of one or more people is dependent on the decedent person.
- Damages available to recover by the beneficiaries.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Several activities can lead to accidents that may attempt a person's life; when these accidents are caused by a negligent party and a person results dead, even though it is not intentional, that is considered a wrongful death.
A variety of common causes of wrongful death can be:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accident
- Bicycle accident
- Bus accidents
- Pedestrian accident
- Slip & fall accident
- Medical malpractices
- Workplace accidents
- Acts of violence
With an estimated 650,000 vehicles in the US fleet, traffic accidents are the most common cause of wrongful death. It is essential to seek the help of an experienced criminal death attorney if you want to file a lawsuit after a loved one passes away due to the negligent actions of another person.
Determining Wrongful Death Compensation
It is always a different amount of monetary compensation that a case can award to the victim's family. Since every point is unique, determining wrongful death compensation is challenging.
Specialists on the matter will need to determine this amount based on the circumstances of the death, how much responsibility had the other person, if the victim died in the act, or if they were hospitalized for some time and died afterward because of the severe injuries sustained.
Typically, in a wrongful death case, the personal representative who files the lawsuit can pursue damages for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Lost inheritance
- Owed taxes
Another thing that can be demanded is punitive damages if it is possible to prove that the at-fault party acted intentionally or maliciously.
Insurance Company's Role In Wrongful Death Claims
When dealing with extreme pain from losing a loved one, you might feel overwhelmed, and many things cross your mind. That is a vulnerable state for you, and on some occasions, you might be the only person in the family; that is why you always need the professional assistance of a wrongful death lawyer in New York City.
Insurance companies apply strategies to save the most from the insurance policy. When they know about the tragedy, they call the grievance family to offer to pay the funerary and burial costs. You might want to say yes because you don't want to deal with any of it, and that is the chance for them to give you as little as possible because they may include in a disclaimer that once you deposit the check, the insurer has no liability.
Also, when they call you, they may ask for vital information that later on they can use as an excuse to deliver less amount for you and your family, and as they are under no obligation to provide you with relevant information regarding the amount of insurance available you can be at a disadvantage.
Along with the call, they may send you multiple pieces of paperwork for you, where they may tell you they are a bureaucratic process and that they will work to get you the amount the policy states, but that may not be entirely true, as you may be signing release forms and giving crucial information that later on may affect you rather than help.
Contact a New York City Wrongful Death Lawyer
We completely understand the pain and suffering you might be dealing with when a family member is taken away from you. It can change the entire family's lives; therefore, you are entitled to compensation for your loss. Indeed, money won't take back your loved one, but it can help you to move on without dealing with the extra burden that another person caused.
Our duty as wrongful death attorneys in New York is to bring justice to your home. The Ward Law Group is committed to helping you with your need. Contact us now at 855-DOLOR-55 for a free consultation on your case; an experienced lawyer will answer all your questions.