Wrongful Death – Who Can Sue and For What?

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Losing a loved one is always difficult. When a loved one dies sooner than they should have and someone else is at fault, then it’s even more difficult. In New York law, this is called wrongful death.

A wrongful death action is a type of civil lawsuit that certain people can bring when a person does something wrong that causes another person’s death. In New York, most of the time, the only people who can bring a wrongful death claim are the child, parent, or spouse of the person who died, as well as the personal representative of the estate (this person often is called the “executor” or “administrator”).

There are quite a few instances where the death of a loved one could result in a wrongful death case, but the most common are from car accidents, failure of a doctor to diagnose a condition or a mistake in diagnosis, defective products, aviation accidents, and workplace accidents.

Car accidents are by far the most common cause of wrongful deaths simply because of how many people drive and how often people drive. Unfortunately, car accidents lead to thousands of deaths every year. When you add in accidents involving tractor trailers, motorcycles, and bicycles, the number only increases. Also contributing to the high number of wrongful death cases associated with car accidents are the ones that involve pedestrians. Accidents that involve pedestrians are more likely to be fatal because pedestrians don’t have any of the protection from impact that people inside of a vehicle have.

If an accident is caused by the negligence of the other driver, then that driver might be liable for the deaths of the victims. If the accident was because of road issues, then a city, county, or even the State might be held responsible for the death.

When a workplace accident that results in death occurs, sometimes a machine’s manufacturer or the owner of the property (when that owner is not the same as the employer) may be at fault or another person or entity could bear liability. In New York, however, if an employer has workers’ compensation insurance, an employee (or his family) cannot sue the employer directly, even in the case of an accidental death. This can be confusing, so when an accident happens at work, you need to talk to a lawyer about who legally can be held to be at fault.

Finally, plane accidents are rare, but as we sadly know in Western New York, when they do happen, fatalities can result. Usually, these accidents are from mechanical issues or pilot error, so the manufacturer or the airline may be liable.

If you lost a loved one from an accident that wasn’t their fault, you’re not alone. The Coppola Firm is here to help you through all the technicalities, legal or otherwise, associated with your case. Our team of experienced attorneys are prepared to advocate on behalf of your lost loved one.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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