Seeking Justice for Your Loved One
Losing a loved one is devastating. Whether the death was caused by the negligence of another driver on the road, a negligent doctor, a defective product, or a careless property owner, fighting to get the financial compensation your family needs shouldn’t have to feel like going up against a brick wall.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death is part of personal injury law. Instead of filing a claim for the injuries caused by someone’s negligence, you are pursuing a claim for damages stemming from the loss of a family member due to someone’s negligence.
What Are the Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death may arise from a variety of different circumstances. Virtually any situation that can result in serious injury can also cause fatality.
Wrongful death claims can involve:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
- Train Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Construction and Industrial Accidents
- Dangerous Premises, Including:
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Negligent Security
- Dog Bites and Dog Attacks
- Carbon Monoxide Exposure
- Defective Products
- Medical Malpractice, Including:
- Surgical Errors
- Birth Injuries
- Delayed Diagnosis
- Failure to Diagnose
- Pharmaceutical Errors
- Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
It is important to understand that you have legal rights if your loved one died as a result of another party’s negligence. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can identify the party or parties responsible and pursue compensation for your losses.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only the personal representative of a deceased individual’s (the decedent’s) estate can file a wrongful death claim. Family members are not permitted to bring a claim, unless the decedent’s will names a relative as the personal representative of the estate.
Though only the personal representative (also known as the executor or administrator of the estate) can initiate legal proceedings, surviving loved ones of the decedent may be awarded damages in a wrongful death claim.
What Compensation Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The damages you may be able to recover in your wrongful death claim will depend on the losses you and your loved ones have suffered due to your relative’s untimely death. These losses can be divided into three categories:
- Economic Damages
- Non-Economic Damages
- Punitive Damages
1. Economic Damages
As the name suggests, economic damages refer to all of the monetary costs you incur due to the negligence that led to your loved one’s wrongful death. Economic damages that may be available in a wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of anticipated income
- Loss of benefits connected to your loved one’s job, such as health insurance and retirement and pension plans
- Costs associated with a funeral and burial or cremation
- Loss of household services
Medical expenses connected to your loved one’s passing may be recouped through a claim known as a survival action. Unlike a wrongful death claim, which pursues compensation due to surviving family members, a survival action pursues compensation that the decedent would have been due had they survived their injuries.
2. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages refer to losses that do not have a definitive monetary value. In a wrongful death claim, these damages may include:
- Loss of consortium – the loss of intimacy and affection between spouses
- Loss of parental guidance and nurturing
- Loss of society and companionship
Compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death may be recovered as part of a survival action. New York law does not allow surviving relatives to pursue damages for their own emotional anguish stemming from the loss of a loved one.
3. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are designed to punish the party responsible for the death and to deter similar actions in the future.
How Do You Prove Fault in a Wrongful Death Case?
As in a personal injury claim, the ability to recover compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one is dependent on your ability to prove that one or more parties were liable. Generally, you will be seeking to establish the negligence of the at-fault party.
Legally, negligence is the failure to take reasonable precautions in a given situation. You must prove that this negligence violated the duty of care that the party owed to your loved one.
Your claim must prove that your loved one’s death was a result of negligence, as well as the damages you and your loved ones have suffered.
The act that resulted in your loved one’s death does not have to be intentional for your wrongful death claim to be valid; many of these cases arise due to the defendant’s carelessness. However, you can also recover damages for wrongful death if you can prove that the defendant was acting intentionally or with malice.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me?
Proving negligence or misconduct is often challenging. This, combined with the emotional toll of losing a loved one, makes it beneficial to contact a wrongful death lawyer in Albany as soon as possible to discuss your family’s legal options.
An experienced attorney can do the following to help you with your wrongful death claim:
- Investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death
- Identify the party or parties that are at fault, such as a driver, a business, a medical provider, the owner of a property, etc.
- Determine what caused your loved one’s death; this is especially important if your relative suffered injuries but did not immediately pass away
- Gather physical evidence and collect witness statements in support of your case
- Hire relevant experts to review the evidence and provide expert testimony
- Calculate the damages to which you are entitled
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
- Prepare your case for trial (if necessary)
In addition to handling the legal aspects of your claim, a wrongful death lawyer can provide valuable emotional support when your family needs it most. We understand that your loved one is not a legal file number, but a part of your family. We handle your case with compassion and will be responsive to your calls, emails, and concerns through everything.