Under New York law, a wrongful death has occurred when an individual has been killed due to the misconduct or negligence of another person, entity, or company. 

Who can file a New York wrongful death lawsuit?

It is important to understand that not everyone can file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for the wrongful death of another person.  It has been decided by the courts and legislators that the right to obtain financial compensation (such as loss of income, pain and suffering, funeral costs, and others expenses) for the death of a family member should be limited to certain categories of people. 

In theory, the only people eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit are the people who are closely connected to the deceased person, such as a spouse, children, and other direct relatives.  These groups of people would be sufficiently hurt by the loss of the deceased person so as to qualify for compensatory damages.

Survival Action

In most states, including New York, the estate of the victim can bring an action called a survival action.  This type of action enables the estate to recover the pain and suffering of the decedent (provided he suffered prior to death due to the negligence of the defendant).  The executor or administrator of the estate must bring the survival action, and any recovery would be distributed with the rest of the estate according to the will if there is one. 

Wrongful Death Eligibility

There are several steps in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.  The first step is to determine whether the plaintiff is legally eligible to file a lawsuit, which is a legal concept known as “standing.”  Generally, only immediate family members of the deceased person have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

The immediate family includes parents, spouses, and biological and adopted children.  There are some instances where a legal guardian or custodian needs to be appointed by the court to represent the interests of the deceased person’s children if they are not of legal age.  The estate’s executor can also bring a survival action on the behalf of the decedent’s estate. 

The types of damages that can be recovered can also vary from state to state and you should consult an experienced wrongful death attorney with regards to the specifics of the applicable state law should your family wish to assert a wrongful death or survival claim.

What damages can be recovered in a New York wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death awards are primarily based on financial loss.  When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, compensation may be awarded to the decedent’s family for funeral costs, medical costs, loss of earnings, and lost benefits.  Compensation for a child’s loss of a parent’s guidance and training is also available.  However, New York does not allow surviving family members to recover for mental anguish incurred due to their loss.

Punitive damages may be awarded in cases that involve a malicious act or wrongdoing.  These types of damages are intended to punish those at fault and to discourage similar behavior. 

What is the statue of limitations for a wrongful death case in New York?

As a general rule, the New York wrongful death statute of limitations allows surviving family members only two years from the death of a loved one to file a lawsuit.  Unfortunately, if the claim is not filed in this short period of time, the family will be prohibited from ever filing a wrongful death lawsuit and recovering compensation for their loss. 

There are also some cases where the statute of limitations may be shorter or there may be other time restrictions that apply.  Therefore, it is very import that you speak with a New York wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. 

What is the first step in a wrongful death case?

Due to the complex nature of most New York wrongful death lawsuits, the first step is to contact a wrongful death lawyer.  Experienced wrongful death attorneys successfully handle these claims and also help establish liability.

The Hudson wrongful death attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a FREE case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.