To calculate your family’s wrongful death claim, you must identify the types of recoverable damages you qualify for and document their value. This is often a difficult and time-consuming process that requires evidence gathering.
Working with a wrongful death lawyer who calculates the settlement range of these cases regularly is one way to understand what an appropriate settlement or court award would look like. Most personal injury firms offer free initial case consultations for families that lost loved ones to someone else’s negligence.
- How do You Know How Much Your Family’s Wrongful Death Case Is Worth?
- What Are the Types of Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
- Only Certain Parties Are Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Case in New York
- Building a Wrongful Death Case in New York
- Connect With Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Today to Learn More
How do You Know How Much Your Family’s Wrongful Death Case Is Worth?
The only way to determine how much your family’s case might be worth is to document the damages you suffered and add the totals. While this sounds straightforward, it rarely is. There are several types of recoverable damages involved in these cases.
For example, while medical bills and funeral expenses are generally easy to value, most lay people will find it difficult, at the very least, to calculate the future lost income that their loved one would likely have earned. Wrongful death lawyers who are thorough will consult with experts such as economists to determine these losses.
Your attorney will also know how to value the non-economic losses experienced by your loved one and surviving family members. These are intangible losses such as conscious physical pain and suffering due to severe injuries and the emotional distress the victim suffered because of their injuries.
Each case is unique and has its own value. There is no way to apply an average or use a generic formula to determine how much should be demanded in a settlement.
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What Are the Types of Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death cases have two primary purposes: to hold the at-fault party accountable and to recover compensation for the expenses and losses experienced. To this end, the types of recoverable damages available in a wrongful death case should match the costs you and your family experience and will continue to experience because of your loved one’s death.
Your family could be eligible to recover the following types of damages:
- Any medical bills related to the accident and the victim’s treatment before their death
- Their final expenses, including the funeral, burial, or cremation
- Lost financial support
- Reduced inheritance
- Loss of services the victim provided for the household
- The victim’s conscious pain and suffering
The financial recovery in a wrongful death case would be distributed according to the directives in a victim’s will. If there is no will – a situation where the victim is legally termed to have died “intestate”- the laws of intestacy determine who will inherit and how the assets will be divided. In most wrongful death cases immediate family members receive the payout from an insurance settlement or civil trial. This could include the spouse, children, parents, siblings, or other loved ones.
Only Certain Parties Are Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Case in New York
According to Estates, Powers & Trusts § 5-4.1, only the personal representative of the decedent files wrongful death actions in New York. The personal representative might be:
- The executor of the will
- The administrator of the estate (if there was no will naming an executor.)
- Another party named personal representative by the Surrogate’s Court if no family member was eligible, capable, or willing to serve as administrator.
If your loved one died without a will or estate plan, you must have the applicable Surrogate’s Court name a personal representative. This is often a spouse, parent, adult child, or another close relative. The personal representative could be the same person who benefits from the financial recovery in a wrongful death claim, but this is not always true.
The personal representative files the case and works with the legal team to navigate the process. Then, the personal representative distributes the money recovered according to the will or applicable intestate laws.
Building a Wrongful Death Case in New York
To hold a liable party accountable for your loved one’s wrongful death, you will need evidence to show they acted negligently and caused the accident or incident in question. For example, you must show a careless driver violated a traffic law and caused the collision if your family member died in a crash.
This generally requires investigating what happened, gathering evidence, and developing a compelling case to support your allegations. Evidence in these cases depends greatly on the type of incident and the unique factors of the case.
Investigations are often time-consuming and frustrating. You must know the evidence needed, where to find it, and how to present it to the insurance carrier or at trial. When you work with a wrongful death lawyer, you should expect them to:
- Keep you up to date on their work on your case
- Identify all liable parties
- Manage all communication with the insurance company and other parties for you
- Gather the evidence and build the case
- Calculate the value of your wrongful death claim
- Fight relentlessly to win the best possible case results for you
Wrongful death attorneys generally represent families without charging upfront fees. Instead, they work on a contingency-fee basis. They receive a portion of the financial recovery at the end of the case once they win compensation for you. Since this method is used, the family is spared the additional stress of worrying about how to pay for needed legal representation. The wrongful death lawyer will be paid only if and when he or she wins a recovery for the victim’s family. The surviving family does not have to worry about advancing fees or any out-of-pocket costs whatsoever.
Types of Wrongful Death Accidents
If your loved one suffered injuries in a negligence accident on Long Island or elsewhere in New York, you could have a case against the at-fault party. Any number of incidents could lead to a wrongful death case, including:
- Car accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Slip and falls
- Truck accidents
- Rideshare accidents
In almost any situation where your loved one’s death occurred because of someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional actions, a wrongful death action might be possible. Your family should consider speaking with an attorney who handles these cases in your area for a free consultation.
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Connect With Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Today to Learn More
Losing a loved one in a tragic, preventable accident is always difficult. Getting justice does not have to be. The lawyers at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. provide compassionate, free case reviews for families who lost loved ones on Long Island and in greater New York City. It is our honor to explain your options after your difficult loss.
During your free case evaluation, we will assess your options and handle your claim, navigating the process for you with no upfront costs for your family. Call for a free consultation, or use our online contact form to connect with our team today.