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New York Wrongful Death Lawyer
Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorneys Fights for Justice on Behalf of Families Who Have Lost a Loved One In Suffolk County, Nassau County, Queens County, and Throughout NY
The unexpected death of a loved one is a difficult burden to bear for the family and friends that are left behind. It becomes even heavier if that death could have been avoided. If it turns out that the death of a person could have been avoided because it was caused by the negligence of another person or party, then a wrongful death suit can be filed by an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer from our firm.
Wrongful death may seem like a strange term, after all, you may think that any death not caused by illness or natural causes would be considered wrongful. However, wrongful death is a legal term that covers deaths that are not necessarily intentional, specifically deaths that were caused by negligence.
There is nothing that anyone can do to relieve the survivors of the emotional burden, but we at the Harrison Law Group can help to ease the financial burden of your loss. That is because we have wrongful death attorneys with over forty combined years of experience who have been helping Long Island residents with their wrongful death cases for over two decades.
Contact a dedicated New York wrongful death lawyer from our firm as soon as you are able; we will help you to take care of the legal affairs while you tend to everything else.
What is Wrongful Death?
The legal definition of wrongful death is the death of a person due to the reckless, negligent, or even deliberate act of a person or entity. Such a case has four considerations:
- The death of a human being
- The death was caused by a person, group of people, organization, or other entity through negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or omissions
- The surviving family of the deceased must demonstrate financial suffering caused by the unexpected death of the deceased
- The family must appoint a personal representative of the estate of the deceased
In other words, a wrongful death is when what would have been a personal injury leads to a person’s death instead. A personal injury is an injury that is caused by the negligence of another person and some examples include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, intentional killings, aviation accidents, deaths due to defective products, dog bites, and many others. If they, or other types of personal injuries, lead to someone’s death, then a wrongful death suit can be filed. A wrongful death suit can also be filed if the victim’s death was the result of intentional misconduct. In such cases, the perpetrator may also be facing criminal charges related to the death but a wrongful death suit is separate and different.
For one thing, the standard of proof is lower in a wrongful death case than it is in a criminal case. Another difference is that the criminal case is all about punitive measures for the perpetrator, meaning that it is about meting out punishment for the death that they caused. A wrongful death case is about receiving monetary remuneration, rather than dispensing a prison sentence to the guilty party. In other words, a wrongful death case is about addressing the economic and non-economic damages caused by the wrongful death.
Types of Damages in New York Wrongful Death Cases
There are three types of wrongful death damages that can be awarded to survivors of a wrongful death victim. These are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages mainly involve the potential contributions the victim would have made to the survivors had they lived a full life. This also includes the financial burden the injury and subsequent death of the deceased imposed on the family.
- Medical and funeral expenses
- The victim’s expected lifetime earnings
- The victim’s expected benefits such as pension and medical coverage
- Loss of inheritance due to the untimely death
- The value of goods and services the victim would have provided
Non-economic damages fall into two categories, the first of which is called survival actions. These are damages for the pain and suffering the decedent experienced before they died. That includes the severity of the pain, the duration of the suffering, and other related factors. The second category of non-economic damages is the loss suffered by the survivors of the decedent. That includes:
- Mental anguish and suffering caused by the wrongful death
- Loss of care, protection, nurturing, guidance, and advice of the deceased
- Loss of love and companionship caused by the untimely death
- Loss of consortium from a deceased spouse (loss of family relationship, ability to have children, and moral support)
- And more
When especially bad conduct is evident in the case of the defendant, punitive damages can also be awarded. They are not often recoverable in the case of government institutions and other protected entities, but some cases such as abuse of elderly people may be punished with treble damages.
These punitive damages are also paid to you (the plaintiff). In some cases, survival action damages can also be instituted. This is action allows the survivor’s family to recover damages the deceased person would have been able to get in a personal injury claim had they survived.
Some states go further and charge the defendants interest on the damages from the time they were incurred and reimbursement on attorney’s fees as well as other charges incurred.
Determining the Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death case is a civil case, which means you have to prove a “preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, you have to show that there is better than a 51% chance that the death was wrongful, unlike criminal cases whose burden of proof must be “beyond any reasonable doubt.”
However, the process of figuring out the damages to award to the dependents of the deceased person can be a real issue and can get somewhat complicated. It can sometimes require the testimony of expert witnesses, like economists, in order for the jury to determine the size of the damages. That award can then be increased or decreased by the court for various reasons. That is why you should make sure to hire an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer to assist you with your case. Our attorneys in Long Island can help you to get the maximum damage reward that ensures anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased is taken care of.
There are a lot of factors that are taken into account when determining the damages in a wrongful death case. They include the following:
- The Decedent’s Age – The family of a younger person with more earning potential might get a bigger payout than the family of someone who is closer to retirement age.
- The Character of the Decedent – If the decedent was someone who spent their money responsibly, then their family will usually receive a bigger damage award than someone who was more irresponsible.
- The Decedent’s Life Expectancy – The family of someone who was in good health and who took care of themself is likely to get more than the family of someone who was in poor health or who had a serious medical condition.
As you can see, all of the above factors are related to the earning potential of the decedent; the greater their earning potential, the higher the potential damage award. If the decedent was unemployed at the time of their passing, then the court will consider their last earnings and any potential future earnings if they were to get re-employed. The circumstances of their dependents are also taken into account. They are likely to receive a larger payout if the decedent were their main source of income than if any of them were financially independent.
As you well know, insurance companies work very hard to disprove such cases or drive down the potential financial recovery amount as much as possible. Therefore, other factors that may be considered include:
- How long the victim was aware of their impending death (pre-impact terror)
- How long the victim suffered
- Compelling evidence of negligence on the part of the other party
- The pain and suffering caused to the remaining family
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost future income, comfort, future benefits, loss of nurturing, etc
If you have sadly lost a loved one recently, we advise you to consult an experienced and resourceful wrongful death lawyer in New York as soon as possible to secure your legal rights.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Any of the survivors of the decedent (the person who died) can sue but the suit must be filed by a representative on their behalf. That representative is generally the executor of the decedent’s estate. In New York and Long Island, the people on whose behalf the representative can file a suit include the following:
- The spouse of the decedent
- The children of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent
Siblings of the decedent, as well as their extended family, can file a claim if they were named as the personal representative or guardian of the estate.
What Needs to Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
Since a wrongful death case is so closely related to a personal injury case, those close to the deceased must meet the same burden of proof had the deceased person lived. That means they must prove that the negligence of someone else was the cause of the incident that led to the person’s death. That means the following conditions must be met:
- The perpetrator owed the victim a duty of care – This means that the person who caused the death should have been acting in a responsible manner towards the deceased. For example, a doctor has a duty of care to try and find the right diagnosis and treatment options for their patients. A driver has a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians, which means that they should follow the rules of the road and drive in a responsible manner.
- The perpetrator breached their duty of care – In the examples given above, a breach would mean that the doctor failed to give the right diagnosis to their patient or that a driver ignored a stop sign and collided with another car.
- The breach of duty resulted in the death of someone else – In the examples given so far, the malpractice of the doctor left their patient’s condition untreated, which eventually led to their death. In the case of the driver, their collision after ignoring the stop sign caused fatal injuries to the driver of the car they ran into.
The exception to these conditions is when a person intentionally kills another, in which case a wrongful death suit can be brought against them in addition to the criminal charges. As stated earlier, the criminal charges are all about bringing punitive action to the guilty party while the wrongful death suit is about getting financial recompense for the survivors of the deceased.
Difficulties In Wrongful Death Cases
Unfortunately, even when the cause of death is evident, the defendants will often bring all kinds of counterarguments. Some will be downright gory and disrespectful to the deceased, which is why many with wrongful death claims don’t even bother to pursue financial recovery. That’s what the insurance companies want, isn’t it?
That is why it is very important to have resourceful and aggressive wrongful death lawyers. Having practiced in the toughest districts including Suffolk County, Nassau County, Queens County, and throughout the state of NY, the wrongful death lawyers at The Harrison Law Group, P.C., are willing to go the whole distance to fight for you in court.
Whether you’re a parent, guardian, sibling, child, grandparent, or other direct relatives of the deceased, you have a right to file a wrongful death case. If not for the financial damages, then for the punitive damages.
Because the burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher, the parties who caused wrongful death will likely never be convicted of their wrongdoing. Often, the only way to get some closure and justice is to get a large award and punitive damages against them.
Let A Qualified New York Wrongful Death Lawyer Fight for You
As you can see, handling a wrongful death case in New York is a delicate yet challenging process. It needs empathy and aggression in equal measure, which is why the wrongful death attorneys at The Harrison Law Group are so good at them.
In addition to our experience, we are committed to offering the plaintiffs in wrongful death cases moral support to help them fight through to the end. These cases often take years to be settled or tried, and you need someone on your side you can trust and rely on.
Talk to a qualified New York wrongful death lawyer today by calling our number, 866-216-7911, and let us walk with you to victory. Remember, the first consultation is completely free.
How An Experienced New York Wrongful Death Lawyer At Harrison Law Group Can Assist You and Your Family With Your Case
After the traumatic event of having someone close to you die suddenly and unexpectedly, you do not want to go through the further trauma of struggling financially after your loved one’s passing. The Harrison Law Group has highly experienced wrongful death attorneys who will do their best to make sure that the surviving family members of the deceased do not have to worry about their financial security.
Our team of senior attorneys have practiced for over 30 years in the area. Having covered all kinds of wrongful death cases, we’re uniquely qualified to make sure you get the maximum recovery award possible. We know that there is no amount of money that can alleviate the suffering caused by the passing of someone near and dear to you. But if you let the Harrison Law Group take care of your wrongful death case, then that is one less thing that you need to worry about.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your case, and let a dedicated New York wrongful death lawyer from our firm protect your legal rights and interests.
Brett and Kristi are the best. Very professional. Any questions at any time weekdays or even weekends they always responded right away. When you become a client they treat you as if you are a family member of theirs. Brett will fight to get you the money you deserve from your lawsuit. I’m very happy with Harrison Law Group!! I highly recommend them.Sofiarose G.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Cases in New York
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in NY? -
You have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death case in New York. However, there are different provisions such as when the cause of death is disputed. The prudent thing to do is to file the case as soon as possible, especially since a lot of evidence and documentation has to be collected to build the case.