Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Nothing is more difficult than the unexpected and tragic loss of a loved one. When someone you care about died as a result of the negligent or wrongful conduct of another, you deserve justice—and Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP can help.
For nearly 40 years, our firm has helped families on Long Island, in New York City, and throughout the surrounding areas hold negligent parties accountable for the immense pain and suffering they cause. Our New York wrongful death attorneys understand that you are going through one of the most challenging times in your life, and they want to guide you through the legal process so that you can begin to heal. We offer completely free initial consultations and contingency fees, so you do not owe anything unless/until we recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In New York, a “wrongful death” is defined as the death of an individual resulting from “a wrongful act, neglect, or default.” Typically, wrongful deaths occur when someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligent or unlawful conduct. It can be helpful to think of wrongful death claims as cases in which the individual who died (known as the “decedent”) would have had grounds to bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit had he or she lived. However, because the individual died, an eligible party must bring the claim or lawsuit on his or her behalf.
Wrongful death cases often arise from the following accidents, factors, and traumatic events:
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Birth injuries
- Bus accidents
- Car accidents
- Construction accidents
- Defective products
- Falls, including slips and falls
- Maritime accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability-related incidents
- Railroad accidents
- Train and subway accidents
- Truck accidents
- Violence, assault, and other criminal conduct
Note that wrongful death lawsuits are different from criminal homicide cases. A wrongful death claim is a civil action, as opposed to a criminal one. The purpose of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is not to punish the defendant with criminal penalties but, rather, to recover financial compensation for damages suffered by the decedent’s estate and surviving family members.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
Although damages are generally sought on behalf of surviving family members, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate must be the one to file the wrongful death claim or lawsuit. If the person died with a will, the personal representative will almost certainly be someone named in the will to serve as the executor of the estate. If the individual did not have a will when they passed away, the court will typically appoint someone to serve as the personal representative.
Often, the personal representative is also a family member, such as a spouse or child of the decedent. Additionally, regardless of the personal representative’s relationship to the decedent, he or she files the claim and seeks damages on behalf of eligible family members, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, biological or adopted children, parents, and others.
Damages in New York Wrongful Death Cases
State law dictates what types of damages can and cannot be recovered in a wrongful death case in New York. Unlike many other states, New York does not allow surviving family members to recover compensation for their own pain, suffering, grief, mental anguish, or loss of companionship after the tragic death of a loved one.
However, a wrongful death lawsuit could allow you to recover the following types of damages:
- Medical costs associated with treating the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Funeral and/or burial expenses
- Loss of expected financial support and earnings the decedent would have provided
- The reasonable value of services and support provided by the decedent
- The reasonable value of parental care, guidance, and support provided to surviving children
- Loss of inheritance, including contributions the decedent would have made
- Any conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent related to final injury or illness
Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases in New York may also be entitled to interest on the damages award, which is typically calculated from the date of death.
Our New York wrongful death attorneys can review the details of your case during a free and confidential consultation. During this time, we can provide personalized information regarding the types of damages you may be able to recover, as well as the overall potential value of your case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in New York?
Just like other personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is essentially the filing deadline; if you do not file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you will almost certainly lose your right to sue the liable party for damages.
In New York, the statute of limitations on most wrongful death cases is two years from the date of death. However, if the death resulted from an act of medical malpractice, you have two and a half years (or 30 months) to file your lawsuit. If the individual accused of causing the wrongful death also has a criminal case against them as a result of the incident that led to your loved one’s death, the statute of limitations is one year from the date on which the criminal case ends.
No matter the circumstances, it is important that you act quickly if you believe you may have a wrongful death case. At Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP, we understand that filing a lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind after the tragic loss of a loved one, but the sooner you reach out to our team, the sooner we can start investigating the incident and gathering evidence for your claim. As your legal team, we will handle every detail so that you can focus on spending time with your family.
Reach Out to Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
At Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP, we truly care about each and every one of our clients. We take great pride in helping honest, everyday people go up against powerful corporations, insurance companies, and defense teams—and we have what it takes to win. Our New York wrongful death lawyers are here to provide the compassionate counsel and personalized representation you deserve, coupled with the tenacious and aggressive advocacy you and your family need.
There are absolutely no upfront costs when you hire our team. Instead, we only collect attorney fees if/when we win your case. If we do not recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf, you do not pay.
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