The death of a loved one can bring about great grief, as well as significant financial burdens. If someone dies because of another person's negligent act in New York City, it may be possible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. Wrongful death can arise in the context of car crashes, truck accidents, construction accidents, and other situations. At Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP, our New York City wrongful death lawyers provide knowledgeable counsel and representation to families who are coping with the loss of a loved one.Understanding a Wrongful Death Claim
Under New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Code Part 4, you will need to show that there was a death caused by a defendant's wrongful or negligent actions, the decedent could have pursued a cause of action if the death had not happened, one or more people who suffered a loss due to the death survived, and there were actual damages. For example, if your husband was killed by a drunken truck driver who ran a red light and plowed into his car, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death claim is distinct from any criminal charges that may be brought by a prosecutor. It is a civil lawsuit and has a lower burden of proof than a criminal case. While criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil lawsuits must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This essentially means that it is more likely than not that things happened in the way that the plaintiff is asserting.
A wrongful death claim is not brought directly by any family member. Instead, it can be brought by the decedent's estate's personal representative, ideally with the assistance of a wrongful death attorney in New York City. In some cases, it is a close family member who serves as the personal representative of the decedent's estate. In other cases, it is not. However, the damages sought may include any losses suffered by a decedent's heirs and beneficiaries, who are typically close family members, in addition to damages for the losses suffered by the estate. The personal representative holds the damages award in trust for those who experienced the losses.
The damages that you can recover depend on which losses you prove to the court. Possible damages can include wages and benefits lost between a fatal car accident and the actual death, funeral expenses, burial costs, medical and health care expenses related to the fatal injuries, emergency costs, any loss of support and services, any loss of inheritance, conscious pain and suffering, and the value of parental guidance and support. As our New York City wrongful death attorneys can explain, New York is different from some other states in that you cannot recover damages for pain and suffering or mental anguish through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you are a parent of a child who died as a result of someone else's negligence, you can recover damages for the lost value of services by the child, but this award would be reduced by how much it would have cost to take care of your child until they became an adult.
You only have two years from the date of a decedent's death to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. If you miss filing within the statute of limitations, you can lose your right to recover damages at all. This is why it is crucial to retain an attorney right away so that a proper investigation can be made to make sure that you have a viable claim. For example, after a crash involving multiple potential claimants and defendants, it may be difficult to figure out who is at fault, and whether you have the right to recover. It may be appropriate to retain an accident reconstruction expert to determine what likely happened to cause the injuries.Consult a Skillful Wrongful Death Lawyer in New York City or Surrounding Areas
If you recently lost a family member due to someone else's negligence or wrongful acts, you may have a basis to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. While nothing can bring back a loved one, there are financial considerations that make it important to retain an attorney right away. Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP provides vigorous legal representation to family members bringing wrongful death lawsuits based on car, truck, or motorcycle crashes, as well as other types of accidents. We represent victims in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Contact us at 718-896-2700 or via our online form.