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Wrongful Death in New York: A Guide for Grieving Families

The death of a loved one can impart incomprehensible grief upon the immediate and extended members of a family. What’s more, handling the emotional and mental anguish that accompanies death from an unexpected accident can be at times unbearable for survivors.

At a time like this, the thought of pursuing compensation and damages through a wrongful death lawsuit may seem like an unnecessary distraction. However, as our personal injury lawyers will explain further, seeking adequate redress from the individual responsible for the death of your family member could help bring about healing and closure for loved ones left behind.

The Basics of Wrongful Death in New York

As a general principle, wrongful death actions are premised upon an assertion of negligence much like any other personal injury lawsuit. The difference between a personal injury lawsuit and one asserting wrongful death is the latter resulted in the death of the victim, whereas the former caused mere injury. However, proving wrongful death is inherently identical to proving negligence and requires the successful assertion that the defendant acted in a dangerous and reckless manner.

In New York, wrongful death actions are filed by the estate of the decedent (deceased person) and any verdict or settlement is awarded to the victim’s estate to be divided according to the terms of the court’s order. The personal representative of the estate – who is appointed by New York Surrogate’s Court – must file a complaint in federal or state court alleging the following:

  • The defendant acted negligently toward the decedent;
  • The negligent act resulted in the decedent’s demise;
  • The victim left behind a surviving spouse, children, or beneficiaries, and;
  • Those survivors suffered financial loss as a result of the decedent’s death.

Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action

In a successful wrongful death action, the estate can recover two types of damages: (i) actual pecuniary loss, and; (ii) pain and suffering of the deceased. Pecuniary loss refers to the actual costs incurred by the family as a result of the death of the decedent, including any lost wages between the time of injury and the time of death, nursing and healthcare costs and the final burial. In addition, surviving children of the decedent may be awarded damages to compensate for the loss of the parent/child relationship suffered by each child of the decedent.

A New York wrongful death action may be premised upon any of the following categories of misconduct:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Auto/truck/motorcycle/pedestrian accidents
  • Defective consumer products
  • Construction accidents
  • Assault

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney!

For help with a wrongful death action, we encourage you to reach out to one of the top personal injury attorneys in our office. Our team is compassionate and thorough and will guide you and your family through the necessary steps of a wrongful death lawsuit. To get started with Lynch, Schwab & Gasparini, give us a call today at (914) 304-4353. 

Posted on January 23, 2015 in Personal Injury