To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must identify the liable party or parties, gather evidence that proves their carelessness led to your loved one’s death, and submit your case based on your state’s filing deadline. Wrongful death lawsuits allow certain family members to recover compensation for their damages.
Working with a wrongful death lawyer will allow you to navigate this process without personally having the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to build a case and navigate the legal process. Your attorney will manage all aspects of your case while you focus on grieving, healing and, to the extent possible and desired, returning to your usual activities.
- What Is Wrongful Death?
- How to Prove a Wrongful Death Case
- Wrongful Death Damages You Might Recover When You File a Lawsuit
- Who Is Able to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
- How an Attorney Will Handle a Wrongful Death Case
- Speak to Our Team About Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death
What Is Wrongful Death?
When someone dies because of another party’s carelessness or recklessness, their death could support a wrongful death action. In addition, intentionally harmful actions often support both criminal cases and civil wrongful death claims. Generally, if the victim could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they survived, their fatal injuries allow their loved ones to allege wrongful death.
Many types of accidents and incidents could lead to a wrongful death action. This includes:
- Traffic accidents (i.e., car, motorcycle, truck and bus accidents.)
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Construction accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Slip and falls, trip and falls, and other fall injuries
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How to Prove a Wrongful Death Case
Many wrongful death cases settle before a lawsuit is necessary. However, you must develop a compelling case against the liable party to hold them responsible and convince their insurance company to compensate you. To do this, you must investigate what happened and gather evidence to document each player’s role in the accident.
Generally, you will need to take the following steps to prove wrongful death:
- Identify and interview eyewitnesses
- Obtain any official reports, such as police accident reports filed after traffic accidents
- Request and analyze relevant medical records
- Work with experts to better understand what happened Survey the scene of the incident
- Canvas for eyewitnesses and surveillance video
- Document your family’s expenses and losses
Once you have evidence that the accused party’s carelessness or recklessness caused your loved one’s death, it is time to approach that party or their insurance carrier to demand appropriate compensation.
If you must sue, a significant aspect of investigation will most likely occur during the discovery phase of the legal process. In addition to navigating the previous steps, you could interview the liable party – subject to the penalties of perjury for making intentionally false statements – through deposition and take other steps to strengthen your case.
Wrongful Death Damages You Might Recover When You File a Lawsuit
You might be able to recover compensation for various losses and expenses related to your loved one’s death. An experienced lawyer will know the types of damages your family is entitled to and how to document them. This could include:
- Previous and current medical bills related to your loved one’s fatal injury
- The victim’s conscious pain and suffering before their death
- Funeral and burial or cremation expenses
- Income losses
- Future lost income
- Reduced inheritance and other lost benefits
- Loss of services the victim previously provided
Who Is Able to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
Under Estates, Powers & Trusts § 5-4.1, New York state only allows a victim’s personal representative to act legally on their behalf after death. This includes filing a wrongful death action and seeking compensation for loved ones in a wrongful death case.
The personal representative is the executor of the will or administrator of the estate if the victim dies without a will naming an executor. If this is the situation you find yourself dealing with, that is, that your loved one died without a will, survivors will need to have the applicable Surrogate’s Court assign the responsibility and name an administrator to serve as the personal representative of the victim’s estate.
While the personal representative files the case, they do not necessarily receive the payout. The payout in a wrongful death case is distributed according to the will or what are call “laws of intestacy” if the victim died without a will. Depending on their relationship with the victim, the personal representative could receive a portion, all, or none of the money recovered.
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How an Attorney Will Handle a Wrongful Death Case
If the loss of a loved one is what has led you to this page, we extend our heartfelt condolences. At this most difficult time, working with a wrongful death attorney would almost certainly be of substantial benefit to you and your surviving loved ones. Your wrongful death lawyer has a solemn duty to protect your rights and provide zealous advocacy with the goal of winning an appropriate payout for your family based on the case facts.
Attorneys understand the state’s complex wrongful death laws, including who represents the family and who will receive any money recovered. Having a law firm on your side through this process ensures you follow all rules and have someone on your side fighting for your best interests.
You should count on your attorney to:
- Provide updates and answer your questions
- Identify the liable parties
- Manage all communication with other parties about the case
- Gather evidence and build a compelling argument for compensation
- Determine an appropriate settlement value for your case
- Fight relentlessly to win the best possible case result for you and your family
Most wrongful death attorneys provide free initial consultations and go to work for clients with no upfront fees. These lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you pay no attorney’s fees unless they recover money for your family.
Speak to Our Team About Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death
The wrongful death and personal injury lawyers at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. are passionate advocates for the injured and for surviving family members. Our lawyers consider it our honor to represent families who lost loved ones and fight for justice on their behalf.
Our multilingual staff often assists clients who are more comfortable discussing their cases in Spanish, Greek, Bengali, Tamil, and Kannada.
Call our team today. We provide free initial case consultations for families who lost loved ones on Long Island and elsewhere in the greater New York City area.