When someone dies as a result of negligence, it can be a severe and devastating tragedy for their family and loved ones. Wrongful death can be the result of a car accident, a construction injury, medical malpractice, or any other type of negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit will not bring back the person who died, but it can allow for the immediate family of the decedent (the person who died) to receive compensation for monetary injuries they have suffered as a result of the loss of their loved one. Determining who can file the lawsuit and who can recover damages is defined by New York law.
Who Can File the Lawsuit?
Under New York Estates, Powers, Trusts Law section 5-4.1 a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a personal representative of the decedent. A Surrogate’s Court appoints a decedent’s personal representative. This can be the executor of the decedent’s estate as spelled out in a will or a trust, or a family member of the decedent can request to be appointed as a personal representative.
What Damages are Recoverable?
Under New York State law, the only damages that are recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit are economic loss and the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent. Survivors cannot recover for their own pain and suffering caused by losing their loved one. Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit usually include:
- Funeral expenses
- Any medical care provided to the decedent before their death
- Lost wages of the decedent
- Loss of benefits (e.g., medical or pension)
- Loss of possible inheritance
- Loss of support
- Loss of parental guidance
Who Can Recover Damages?
The personal representative who files the lawsuit is not necessarily the person who receives the money after a verdict or settlement. Under New York law the money will be distributed to those who are entitled to it based on the pecuniary loss each individual has suffered. When more than one survivor is entitled to compensation the proceeds will be distributed to the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or siblings depending on the family circumstances. Unfortunately, close friends and boyfriends/girlfriends are unable to recover in a wrongful death suit.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, you should have an experienced wrongful death attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers with wrongful death claims. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español