If you are the spouse, child, or parent of the decedent, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York. A representative of the decedent’s estate will also be able to file a wrongful death suit.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a recent accident, please accept our heartfelt condolences. You want accountability and justice, and you also want to recover compensation for your losses. A wrongful death attorney from our firm can l file a lawsuit on your behalf and prepare your case for the court to pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.
- What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- How Does the Court Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement?
- Is There a Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
- How Long Does it Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Learn More About Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in New York Today
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action in which close family members of the decedent seek to recover damages through the legal process from an individual or entity whose recklessness or negligence caused the death of a loved one.
Due to the complexity of wrongful death lawsuits and the legal system, we strongly urge you to consult an attorney with experience fighting for survivors in wrongful death cases.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-932-0400
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to New York’s Estates, Powers & Trusts § 4-1.1 governing intestate succession,(i.e., who will inherit and to what extent, from someone who died without a will,) those who have the legal authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit include spouses, children, and parents of the decedent, as well as a representative of the estate, approved by the court, who is not related to the victim in the degrees mentioned or not related to the victim at all.
Siblings of the decedent typically do not have an automatic right to file a wrongful death suit in New York. They can only serve in that capacity if the court grants their petition to be appointed as personal representatives of the victim’s estate.
You must be able to prove that the death of the decedent is the result of the defendant’s negligence. Many cases settle out of court, in which case, you would sign a settlement agreement. However, some cases do go to trial where a jury will work to reach a verdict to resolve the case.
How Does the Court Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement?
Under New York law, when a victim dies “intestate,” meaning without a will, spouses and children are given top priority by the court when dividing a wrongful death settlement. A wrongful death lawyer will inform family members of their right to compensation depending on which category they belong to:
- Spouse with no children: If the decedent has a spouse, but no children, the spouse receives the full amount.
- Spouse with children: The spouse will receive $50,000 off the top of the settlement and split the remainder with the children. Each child will receive an equal amount of compensation.
- Parents: If there is no spouse or children, the surviving parents of the decedent receive the settlement. If the parents are no longer together, they each receive an equal half.
- Siblings: Siblings will receive equal shares of the settlement if there is no spouse, children, or surviving parents.
- Grandparents: If the decedent only has surviving grandparents, the grandparents receive the settlement.
- Nieces and nephews: In the event the decedent has no children, spouse, parents, grandparents, or siblings, the settlement fund is dispersed to the nieces and nephews.
It’s possible the court will order a guardian ad litem to look out for the best interests of the decedent’s children, particularly if they aren’t old enough to do so themselves.
Recipients of a settlement should also consider setting enough funds aside to pay taxes on damages that the Internal Revenue System (IRS) considers income, such as compensation for lost income and benefits. It’s possible to designate more compensation for non-taxable damages such as pain and suffering so you have a lower tax liability.
Is There a Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
Yes, there is a deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York, according to Estates, Powers & Trusts § 5-4.1. The statute of limitations provides a window of time to file a wrongful death suit to recover compensation through the legal process if your lawyer is unable to reach a settlement agreement with the liable party and their insurance provider.
If you don’t file a wrongful death lawsuit by the deadline, you will lose your right to recover damages through the legal process and the court will dismiss a case filed after the deadline. For this and other important reasons, we recommend consulting with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the wrongful death of someone you love.
A wrongful death attorney will provide you with options and work to meet the statute of limitations along with any other deadlines in your case so you can pursue justice and accountability in a court of law.
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How Long Does it Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There is no set time limit to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. At the extremes of the range of time it can take, some cases settle in a matter of weeks while others can even take years to resolve, depending on their complexity and value.
If the liable party and their insurer make a settlement offer, taking the offer and signing a settlement agreement would resolve your case more swiftly than if you were to decide to take your case to court.
However, after resolving your case, the settlement will disperse to the recipients in a matter of weeks.
Learn More About Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in New York Today
New York has a system in place prioritizing who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and who can receive compensation. A wrongful death lawyer from Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. will explain this priority to you and determine whether you have the right to file. We’d be honored to handle your claim during this difficult time.
We have over 30 years of experience with wrongful death lawsuits. A lawyer from our firm will determine liability, handle communications with other parties, collect evidence, and calculate the value of your case, so you have time to simply grieve your loved one and spend time with your family.
To learn more about who can file a wrongful death suit in New York, or to talk to us about your case, call for a free consultation today.