3 Things to Know About New York Wrongful Death Cases

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Many accidents don’t result in injuries. They result in the death of the victim.

When that happens, a wrongful death suit allows the survivors to recover some damages. 

Right now, wrongful death suits are in the news. For example, Malcolm X’s family is filing a $100 million wrongful death suit naming the NYPD, New York State, NYC, the FBI, and the CIA for covering up his murder. 

Most suits won’t be as dramatic or as sensational. Nevertheless, wrongful death suits are meant to compensate families for preventable deaths due to negligence or malfeasance. 

Here’s what you need to know about wrongful death suits in New York. 

#1) Only certain individuals may file a wrongful death suit.

In New York, a person may file a wrongful death suit if they are the personal representative for the decedent’s estate. Otherwise, the party must be the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. 

#2) Your lawyer must prove four distinct claims.

To prove you have grounds for a wrongful death suit, your lawyer must prove the following:

  1. Someone with a duty of care towards the decedent has failed in that duty of care and has acted negligently. 
  2. Those negligent actions led directly to the death of another person.
  3. If that person had lived, they could have recovered damages for the negligent conduct. 
  4. Survivors exist who have suffered specific damages as a result of this death. 

 #3) The bulk of a wrongful death suit comes from the lost earnings claim.

In a wrongful death suit, you may recover damages for loss of support, medical expenses arising from the accident, and funeral costs. You may also sue for the decedent’s lost earnings. You may not sue for your own pain and suffering in regard to the loss. 

The lost earnings amount will almost always be the highest of those amounts. This is why wrongful death suits for children are so low and why many New Yorkers are angry at the wrongful death laws as written. 

They presume the life of a person who was not earning or could not earn income has no value and fail to punish negligent parties for their negligence in any meaningful way. 

Of course, it may still be worth filing a suit just to cover medical and funeral costs. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand you might not have as much to gain from a lawsuit if the decedent wasn’t bringing an income into your household. 

You’ll Need a Lawyer Fast

The faster you move to file your wrongful death suit, the better off you’ll be. In cases where you must sue the city or any other government agency, you have just thirty days to file a notice of claim.

In other cases, you’ll have two years, but there’s rarely any benefit to waiting. Vital evidence tends to disappear over time, even if nobody is acting maliciously. 

Contact RLF to get help today. We have extensive experience helping New Yorkers with wrongful death claims, and we’re ready to help you, too.

See also: 

How to Sue NYC for an Injury 

Covid 19 Nursing Home Lawsuits in New York 

How Are Lost Future Earnings Calculated in New York?

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    SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.

    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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