Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

It’s always a challenge to lose someone that you love. It feels even more tragic when your loved one dies because of another person’s negligent or reckless behavior. When this occurs, New York law provides a way for surviving family members to be compensated for their losses by filing a type of New York personal injury claim known as a wrongful death lawsuit.  

Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases

Obviously, the first step is to assess whether or not you can even file a claim. If your family member died due to another person’s negligence, then it’s a possibility. Negligence is the failure to act with a reasonable amount of care. For example, every driver on the road has a duty to pedestrians and the other drivers to follow the traffic laws and regulations. If the motorist drives while intoxicated and hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the pedestrian’s spouse can file a wrongful death action against them.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only immediate family members are allowed to make a wrongful death claim– this means parents, spouses, or children of the deceased person. New York law differs from other states because it mandates that the person filing a wrongful death claim must be the “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate. It can’t just be a relative unless that person is also the personal representative. New York doesn’t recognize wrongful death claims from parents when a fetus dies before birth, even if the death was caused by another person’s wrongful act.

The New York Definition of “Wrongful Death” 

If you are going to file a wrongful death claim, there are four elements needed to establish it:

  • The defendant was negligent
  • The defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s death
  • There are surviving family members 
  • The surviving family members have suffered damages as a result of the victim’s death

Wrongful Death Damages

When the personal representative files the claim, they may seek damages for losses that were suffered by the deceased’s heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees. This is in addition to the damages for any losses suffered by the estate. The damages will depend on the specific details of the case. However, they can include the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical, nursing, and other health care expenses related to the deceased person’s final injury/illness
  • Lost wages and benefits for time between the deceased person’s final injury/illness and their death
  • The value of support and services the victim provided to family members
  • The value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance to surviving children
  • Lost inheritance suffered by surviving children
  • The victim’s pain and suffering they experienced due to the final injury/illness

New York Statute of Limitations

A wrongful death claim in New York must be filed within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death. The state will not stop the statute of limitations from running if the personal representative is a child; the child’s guardian can file the claim in these situations. 

Speak with an Experienced New York Wrongful Death Attorney

When your loved one dies because of someone’s negligence, it can be devastating. In addition to the grief you’re experiencing, you probably have a lot of questions about how to hold the wrongdoer accountable. An experienced MOWK Law attorney can help you with answers and will treat you with the care that you deserve during this challenging time. Contact us today to explore courses of action.