Wrongful Death

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Wrongful Death Lawyers in Buffalo

A wrongful death lawsuit in New York is a legal claim brought by the surviving family members or representatives of a person who died as a result of another party’s negligence or intentional actions.  The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and to seek compensation for the family’s losses, including medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

To be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit in New York, the family members or representatives of the deceased person must be able to prove that the death was caused by the defendant’s (the person or party being sued) negligence or intentional actions and that the family members have suffered damages as a result of the death.

What Requirements Exist for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Certain family members can file a wrongful death claim in New York.  Under New York’s Estates, Powers and Trust Law, the deceased’s children, parents, spouse, or a representative of the estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.  Typically, siblings and cousins of the deceased do not have a right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in New York unless they have also been named as a guardian or personal representative.

A family can only sue for wrongful death damages in New York if there still is time to do so.  New York Estates, Powers and Trust Law sets a general two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits. If you do not file your claim within two years of your loved one’s death, you may lose your right to compensation. You should speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney who understands the specific laws and regulations in New York and can advise you on your legal options and help you build a strong case.

What Type of Damages Exist in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies through the negligent act of another, a wrongful death claim can result. A family bringing a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident or medical malpractice may be able to recover compensation for their pecuniary loss and in certain cases for the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death. They need to establish that the death was caused by a defendant’s careless or wrongful actions, the victim could have brought a personal injury case if they had not died, one or more of the victim’s relatives or beneficiaries suffered a loss due to the death, and damages were incurred that may be recovered by the estate.

 You may be able to collect compensation from the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  1. Funeral and burial costs;
  2. Costs of pre-death medical care;
  3. Loss of services, such as childcare;
  4. Loss or reduction in the inheritance that the victim would have left;
  5. Pain and suffering endured by your loved one prior to their death;
  6. Medical expenses required to treat the victim;
  7. Lost wages the victim was earning and would have been able to earn in the future; and
  8. Loss of parental guidance the deceased would have provided if they reached their anticipated life expectancy

The age and life expectancy of the person who died (the decedent) and their distributees (the people who will receive the money from the estate) will impact how these financial losses are calculated.  One of the hardest parts of any wrongful death action is determining and proving the monetary value of the loss of the parental guidance, emotional support and moral training that should be awarded.  In certain cases, these damages can be claimed by adult children of a deceased parent, but they typically are much larger if surviving child is younger or has special needs that makes the child dependent on the parent.

Conscious pain and suffering includes the physical pain that an individual experienced before their death, and it can also include fear of impending death, which is also called “pre-impact terror.”  It is hard to quantify pain or terror, and no amount of money can make up for that, but the law can only provide a financial resolution.  The experienced personal injury attorneys at The Coppola Firm can help to set and achieve the best possible result for the family.

Right now, families who are not in the proximity of their loved when they are fatally injured cannot recover for the grief they suffer.  New York has a law pending, awaiting Governor Hochul’s signature, which would change this and finally allow monetary recovery for grief.  The Coppola Firm has been a strong advocate for this change.

Can I Bring a Lawsuit if a Family Member Dies?

Yes.  There are important and complex issues that need to be evaluated related to how the accident happened, who may be at fault, and what deadlines exist to bring a claim.  The personal injury attorneys at The Coppola Firm have decades of experience representing families of those who died by the negligence of someone else. We are conveniently located in suburban Amherst, New York, with a ground floor office, close, free parking, and easy office access.  Our lawyers will come to meet you at your home, office, or hospital, or via call or videoconference to minimize your need to travel, if you like.  The lawyers at The Coppola Firm represent people across the State of New York. Reach out to us anytime online or call 716.839.9700.

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