A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by the close relatives of someone who was killed as a result of a third party’s negligence or wrongdoing. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for the parties damaged by negligence or a crime to initiate legal action.
The wrongful death statute of limitations in New York is set forth in Estate Powers and Trust Law § 5-4.1. It allows 2 years from the date of death to file a lawsuit. If there was a criminal case against the same defendant, the statute of limitations allows at least a year from the end of criminal proceedings. Due to a court ruling, in cases that would benefit a child under age 18, the 2 years begins once a guardian is appointed for the child or the child turns 18, whichever happens first. In medical malpractice wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations is extended to 2 years and 6 months.
Wrongful death claims are typically complex cases. They require investigation, collection of evidence, calculation of losses and compensation due, and additional work. Preparation of a claim, with or without foot-dragging by the other side, can easily eat up the two years available, after which there is no recourse.
If a close relative of yours has been killed in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, we understand the emotional and financial issues that you are facing. A compassionate New York City wrongful death attorney at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., can help you determine whether you have a right to hold the individual or business that caused your loved one’s death financially accountable. Please contact us online or at (212) 279-2000 as soon as possible to protect your rights and interests.
When You Should Consider Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims allow surviving family members to seek compensation so that they are not left to bear the financial burden caused by the loss of a family member who helped support the household. A wrongful death lawsuit can demand that the person or entity that caused the death pays for what occurred. Even if the wrongdoer faces criminal charges, a criminal conviction likely will not provide restitution to the deceased’s survivors. The family will have to pursue a separate civil lawsuit.
The family member has the burden of proving his or her eligibility to bring a wrongful death claim, as well as proving the required elements of the case.
Surviving family members who may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim include:
- Spouses and, in some cases, life partners
- Children, including adopted children or other minors who depended on the deceased for financial support
- Parents of unmarried children
- Brothers, sisters, and grandparents under certain circumstances
- Other family members or individuals who suffered a financial loss as a direct result of the death.
If you are eligible to file a claim, you must be able to show that:
- The defendant breached an obligation or duty to the victim
- That this breach was a direct cause of the death
- That losses were suffered as a result of the death
- That these losses can be mitigated by monetary compensation from the defendant.
All residents of New York have a general duty of safety to each other. For example, anyone who drives on a public road has an obligation to obey traffic laws so as not to endanger others. If a driver drives recklessly and causes a fatal accident, the at-fault driver may be held liable. Similarly, businesses that solicit visits by potential customers must ensure their buildings and grounds are safe or that they adequately warn visitors about any hazards they cannot immediately mitigate.
A wrongful death lawsuit in New York must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This is typically the executor of the will or when there is no will, the closest surviving adult relative. The personal representative sues on behalf of the deceased’s estate and on behalf of the heirs of the estate.
The deceased’s estate has the right to seek compensation for:
- Medical and funeral expenses incurred by the fatally injured individual prior to death.
- Pain and suffering endured by the victim prior to death.
- Pecuniary losses for heirs, which means loss of financial support, voluntary assistance, and possible inheritance.
Unlike some other states, New York does not allow plaintiffs to recover noneconomic damages, such as payment for grief, loss of companionship or loss of consortium.
New York law determines how damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit will be divided when more than one survivor qualifies for compensation.
If you are an eligible family member (or are one of the multiple eligible family members) who was supported financially to any extent by an individual who died because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you should speak to a lawyer about a potential wrongful death claim.
The Importance of Hiring a NY Wrongful Death Attorney
The investigation into a wrongful death claim will go faster and more smoothly if conducted by lawyers who are experienced in handling wrongful death cases and know New York City courts and other relevant NY localities.
David Resnick founded the law firm that bears his name in 1998 after working in large firms and seeing a need for communicating better and providing more personalized legal service to clients. Since then, David Resnick & Associates, P.C. has grown into a successful New York personal injury law firm in midtown Manhattan. We’ve pursued a variety of New York personal injury and wrongful death cases, and have recovered substantial settlements and jury awards for our clients.
If you are dealing with the unjust death of a loved one due to a car accident, a slip and fall accident, criminal violence or another act of negligence or recklessness, contact David Resnick & Associates as soon as possible at (212) 279-2000 or online for a free, no-obligation explanation of your legal options. Don’t delay. Let us help you today.