Losing a loved one in a car accident is an indescribable tragedy. Beyond the emotional turmoil, such a loss can bring substantial financial hardship to the surviving family members. New York law allows the spouse, children and/or parents of a victim of wrongful death to recover financial damages. Like a personal injury case, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought against the driver or other party whose negligence was responsible for causing the crash. The major distinction is in how damages are measured and who may recover them.
Under New York statute, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the decedent’s estate representative, who is usually the executor or administrator. Any damages recovered in the lawsuit are ultimately distributed to the qualifying family members in proportion to the pecuniary injuries they each have suffered. If there is no estate representative available, these beneficiaries can have an administrator appointed to prosecute the action for their benefit.
Wrongful death lawsuits in New York can recover various types of damages, including these:
- Funeral and burial expenses — These include all costs related to disposal of the remains.
- Reasonable health care expenses — These are medical expenses relating to care and treatment the decedent received before passing away.
- Financial support — The income and other resources that the deceased no longer will contribute to the family are a significant aspect of damages.
- Value of support and services — This includes the household contributions, childcare and other assistance that the decedent will no longer provide to the family.
- Value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance — When the deceased leaves behind young children, the lawsuit can account for the nurturing, care and guidance that the children will no longer receive.
- Lost inheritances — Surviving family members can recover the value of inheritances they would have received had the deceased not passed away prematurely.
- Pain and suffering — Damages can be awarded for the conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased due to the injury and/or illness that led to their untimely death.
Note that in New York, surviving family members cannot recover damages for their own pain and suffering, mental anguish or loss of companionship.
While no amount of compensation can replace a lost loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can at least help the surviving family members cope with the financial implications of the loss.
In New York, a wrongful death action must be initiated within two years from the date of the victim’s death, regardless of when the fatal accident occurred.
At Goldberg Sager & Associates in Brooklyn, our attorneys are skilled in bringing wrongful death lawsuits in behalf of family members of fatal accident victims. We handle these cases on a contingency basis, so we do not take a fee until we reach a settlement or verdict in your behalf. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 718-514-9516.