Medical Malpractice

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

May 26, 2021
wrongful death claim

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The unexpected loss of a loved one is the most challenging situation you'll ever face. When a loved one's death is caused by another, you can seek monetary damages through a wrongful death claim. Financial compensation can't undo the pain, but it can provide much-needed support to grieving families.

If you have questions like "Who can file a wrongful death suit?" or "How much can you sue for wrongful death?" A New York wrongful death attorney has the answers you're looking for.

To learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in NY, contact the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm today.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death suit, also called a wrongful death claim, is a lawsuit that allows certain family members to seek compensation from the person responsible for the victim's death. Wrongful death compensation usually goes to the deceased's immediate family members, like their spouse, children, or parents. Successful wrongful death suits allow families to recover compensation for funeral expenses, medical bills, and the financial support their loved one provided.

If you're wondering, "Who can sue for wrongful death in New York?" There are some key details to be aware of. Wrongful death lawsuits are brought in the name of the deceased. This means that a personal representative from the deceased's estate must be involved in a New York wrongful death lawsuit.

wrongful death suit

Evidence in a New York Wrongful Death Claim

If you're considering pursuing a New York wrongful death case, your first question should be this: How do you prove wrongful death?

Filing a New York wrongful death claim requires proving that the person's death was due to negligence or an intentional act. As in any personal injury case, proving negligence is the first step in recovering wrongful death damages. You'll need to prove harm and present documentation as evidence of your claim.

Can Any Family Member File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death attorneys commonly answer these questions: "Who can file wrongful death lawsuit in New York?" and "Who is entitled to wrongful death benefits?"

State laws limit who can bring a wrongful death claim in New York and recover damages. These lawsuits are typically reserved for immediate relatives:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Deceased's children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents

The right to recover damages after a wrongful act leads to death follows the above order: Parents can file wrongful death claims only in the absence of a spouse or children, and so on. Under NY law, other family members cannot file wrongful death cases, unless they are acting as the legal guardian of surviving children.

wrongful death statute of limitations new york

What Types of Incidents Can Cause Wrongful Deaths?

Many accidents and injuries can give a family grounds for a wrongful death claim in New York, including these common incidents:

  • Car Accidents: DUIs, running red lights, speeding, reckless driving
  • Pedestrian Accidents: Failures to notice a pedestrian or yield the right-of-way
  • Medical Malpractice: Surgical errors, medication errors, failures to diagnose
  • Workplace Accidents: Falls, caught-between accidents, toxin exposures
  • Premises Liability Incidents: Failures to maintain property safely
  • Drug and Device Problems: Dangerous drugs, faulty medical devices, toxic materials

What all wrongful death lawsuits have in common is that the death of the deceased person was caused by another responsible party, usually due to negligence.

What Damages Are Awarded in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

What damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit? Every wrongful death claim has a unique case value based on the types of damages involved.

Family members can seek compensation from the negligent party for damages that include:

  • Economic Damages: Economic losses include funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses incurred before death, and other costs associated with the injury and death.
  • Pain and Suffering: These damages are available as compensation for pain and suffering endured by the deceased from the injury until their death.
  • Lost Wages and Loss of Future Earnings: If the deceased was employed, family members can seek compensation for future earnings and benefits based on expected years of work remaining.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, a judge will award punitive damages atop economic and non-economic damages. These are intended as a punishment for excessive negligence.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages compensate families for non-financial forms of loss, such as loss of consortium, affection, love, support, and guidance.

A key responsibility of a wrongful death lawyer is to identify a fair compensation value based on a family's losses.

wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations

How Is the Compensation for Wrongful Death Distributed?

How compensation is distributed in a wrongful death lawsuit depends heavily on the family structure. In cases in which the deceased person left behind a spouse and no children, the full amount goes to the spouse.

New York law grants equal rights to a spouse and children: When both a spouse and children survive the deceased, compensation is split evenly between each family member. When no spouse survives, compensation is split equally among the surviving children.

In the absence of both spouse and children, the entire compensation value is awarded to the deceased's parents. When the only surviving family members are the siblings of the deceased, compensation is divided equally among each sibling.

In cases in which one of the deceased's children is already dead, that child's wrongful death compensation passes to any children they left behind (the deceased's grandchildren).

Can a Family Member File a Wrongful Death Claim If the Deceased Was Partially to Blame for the Accident?

New York uses contributory fault when identifying fault in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if the deceased's actions contributed to the accident that caused their death, family members can pursue a wrongful death claim. In New York, family members might still recover some compensation even if the deceased were mostly to blame for the accident, unlike in many other states.

During the legal process, the deceased will be ascribed a percentage of fault. Once wrongful death compensation is awarded, the amount given to the family will be reduced by the percentage of fault ascribed to the victim.

how long does a wrongful death lawsuit take

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations New York

If you're planning to file over a loved one's death, one of your most important questions should be this: How long do you have to sue for wrongful death?

Every state limits how long you have to seek compensation. The wrongful death statute of limitations in New York allows family members two years from the date of the death.

Some situations allow for more time. For example, New York's medical malpractice statute of limitations allows up to 30 months — or longer if the cause of death isn't discovered immediately.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Case Take?

Family members often ask, "How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?" Unfortunately, there's no easy way to tell how long a case will take to resolve. Every case comes with unique factors that significantly impact how it unfolds. Some wrongful death cases take months, while others take years.

Loved ones should be aware that the wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations limits the time you have to take action. Contacting a wrongful death lawyer immediately after a loved one's death can increase the chances of a successful outcome.

who can file a wrongful death suit

How Can Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim?

How do you file a wrongful death lawsuit? The first step is to consult with an experienced lawyer. Wrongful death claims are complex, so you'll need to work with a personal injury lawyer in New York who has a long history of success.

Your personal injury attorney will perform these tasks:

  • Legal Advice: Inform you of your legal rights and advise you on how to proceed
  • Building a Case: Collect evidence to prove negligence
  • Identifying Case Value: Examine receipts, bills, and other documents to identify a fair compensation goal
  • Insurance Negotiations: Negotiate a settlement on your behalf with the negligent person's insurance provider
  • Legal Representation: Represent you before the judge or jury if your case goes to court

To learn more about the process, schedule a consultation with a New York City wrongful death lawyer.

Contact an Attorney at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm Today

If you've lost a loved one in New York, Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm can review your case and advise you on how to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.

The loss of a loved one is a tragedy, but an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help prevent it from becoming financially disastrous. We'll fight for your rights as you focus on mourning your loss.

Contact us today at 212-869-3500 to schedule a consultation with a New York wrongful death attorney at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm.