Wrongful Death Lawyer
At Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, P.C., it is our hope that we never have to see you following the wrongful death of a loved one. This is the worst possible outcome of someone else’s negligence and something we wish never had to happen to anyone. Unfortunately, as long as there are negligent people, there will be unpreventable fatal accidents. If your loved one recently passed away in a car accident, at work, during an assault, or because of a property or product defect, contact us. We can make this difficult time a little easier on you and your family.
Wrongful Death Laws in New York
Like all lawsuits, the success of wrongful death claims depends on the injured party following the rules and requirements for taking this legal action. This starts with the legal definition of wrongful death. A death is only wrongful if someone else’s wrongful conduct caused it. Think of a wrongful death claim as a cause of action the deceased person could have pursued had the accident not resulted in death. There is also a strict deadline for filing this type of claim in New York, two years from the date of the death.
The only party eligible to file a wrongful death claim in New York is the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This works differently from many states that allow family members to bring the claim directly. The only time a family member may bring the claim is if he or she is also the personal representative. The deceased person may have named a representative in his or her will. If not, the courts can assign this party during the probate process.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
A personal representative files the wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members, heirs, and beneficiaries. In the event of a successful settlement or judgment, the courts will treat the personal representative as if he or she will hold the damages award in trust for the surviving family members. Damages the estate may receive for the wrongful death of a loved one include:
- Medical bills. These may include the decedent’s medical costs from the date of the accident to the time of death, as well as medical expenses the family paid.
- Funeral and burial costs. These and similar expenses may go to the family, such as for memorial services and other related costs.
- Loss of income and benefits. The family will receive payment for the decedent’s lost future earnings and benefits, including retirement benefits and inheritance.
- Loss of companionship. These are non-economic losses that may include loss of the loved one’s company, support, love, care, and guidance.
New York obeys intestacy statutes to decide who will receive damages for wrongful death. A surviving spouse with no children will get the entire amount. A spouse with children will receive $50,000 and half the balance of the estate, while the children will receive the remainder divided equally. Children with no spouse will divide the entire amount equally among them. If there is no spouse or children, the decedent’s parents will receive the whole amount. Finally, the decedent’s siblings may split the amount equally if there are no other surviving relatives. For more information about your specific claim, call (212) 227-1212.