New York’s wrongful death laws set strict criteria for who can file the claim, which family members can benefit from the settlement, and what types of damages apply to compensation. Any accident could become a wrongful death situation if the negligence of another party caused it. Therefore, it is important to have a New York wrongful death lawyer who not only understands personal injury claims but also understands the nuances of wrongful death claims.
An attorney from Buttafuoco & Associates can help you and your family during this difficult time. Call today: 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
In general, a fatality is a wrongful death if the negligence of another party caused the decedent’s injuries. Wrongful deaths can occur in any personal injury accident, from car accidents to medical malpractice.
Some of the most common types of wrongful death claims include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Work accidents
- Aviation accidents
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
There are two sides to a wrongful death claim. First, you must prove that another party’s negligence directly caused the death of your loved one. Second, you must prove that your loved one and your family suffered substantial damages arising from the act of negligence.
Establishing negligence is the same as any personal injury case in New York. You must have proof such as:
- Photographs or video
- Witness testimony
- Police or incident reports
- Damaged materials involved in the accident
- Medical reports
This evidence must establish that the at-fault party owed your loved one a duty of care and breached that duty, causing the death.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
There are strict rules regarding who can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of a decedent. New York law EPT § 5-4.1 states only the decedent’s personal representative can bring a wrongful death claim for damages the decedent would have been entitled to had he or she survived the act of negligence.
The personal representative must pursue this action within two years of the death unless the death was the result of a crime against the decedent. In this case, the statute of limitations is even shorter — only one year from the termination of the criminal action.
Who may benefit from the settlement?
Upon settlement of a wrongful death claim, the courts will distribute the proceeds of the settlement to the surviving family members. Under New York law EPT § 5-4.4, courts will distribute the settlement of the damages to the persons entitled to pecuniary injuries.
A judge will determinine eligibility for damages and percentages of distribution at a court hearing following the wrongful death claim settlement.
In most cases, surviving spouses, children, and parents are entitled to a share of the damages.
Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim
New York law EPT § 5-4.3 allows the survivors of the decedent to claim financial damages including:
- Decedent’s estimated earnings lost between the time of the act of negligence and the time of death
- Nursing and care for the injury arising from the act of negligence
- The value of the support and services the decedent provided to family members
- The value of the parental nurturing to surviving children
- Reasonable funeral expenses
The awarding of punitive damages to survivors might occur if the decedent was entitled to these damages before his or her death. With regard to “pain and suffering damages” note that New York law only accounts for the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent before death, and not that of the surviving family.
There are many factors working in a wrongful death case to determine your family’s eligibility to file a claim, the amount of damages recoverable, and the survivors entitled to those damages.
Many families suffer tumultuous arguments while determining the rights and responsibilities of each party, and a wrongful death lawyer can be helpful in avoiding these situations.
For legal guidance and help with a wrongful death claim in New York, contact Buttafuoco & Associates at 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review.