Syracuse Wrongful Death Lawyers Pursuing Justice for a Victim’s Family
If you have lost a family member due to another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. The death of a loved one can be difficult, no matter the circumstances. However, it is an even more devastating event when the death was caused by negligent actions.
The lawyers of Passalacqua & Associates, LLC recognize that this is a traumatic and emotional time in your life. There are many factors to consider, such as who is responsible for paying final medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other costs related to the multitude of legal issues that you will most certainly encounter.
The lawyers of Passalacqua & Associates, LLC are fully committed to seeking a fair settlement for bereaved families who are victims of wrongful death.
How Does New York Define Wrongful Death?
Under New York state law, wrongful death is defined as being caused by “a wrongful act, neglect or default” in a case that the deceased loved one could have pursued through a personal injury lawsuit. This type of personal injury claim differed from others in that legally specified surviving family members or a personal representative can file the wrongful death claim on the deceased person’s behalf.
There are a variety of events that can qualify for a wrongful death suit, including:
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional acts, including crimes
- Negligent actions or negligence-based accidents (such as being killed by a drunk driver in a motor vehicle accident).
It should also be understood that wrongful death claims can be brought against the responsible party even if they did not intentionally commit the actions that caused the decedent to pass away.
Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim In New York?
In New York, there are strict guidelines as to who may legally file wrongful death claims. Per New York law, a personal representative of the estate is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party.
If a settlement is reached, damages can be awarded to immediate family members. Examples include surviving spouses, children of the deceased, or parents of the deceased if there is no spouse, children, or grandchildren. If there is no spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents, then the brothers or sisters of the decedent may be able to recover any compensation that may be awarded as part of the settlement.
The law gives priority to a decedent’s surviving immediate family members, such as a spouse or children. Based on the individual circumstances that surround the wrongful death case, the spouse or children may receive the total amount of compensation that the court awards.
It is vital that families of wrongful death victims know that New York has a statute of limitations on the amount of time that you are given to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In New York, the statute of limitations states that the estate has up to two years to file a wrongful death claim from the date of the person’s death. If the estate of the decedent waits too long to file that wrongful death case, the lawsuit will most likely be thrown out. This two-year period starts on the day of actual death and not on the date of the accident that led to the death.
The exception to the two-year time limit for a wrongful death lawsuit is if the true cause of death was not discovered until a later date. From the time that the actual cause of death was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered, the clock begins ticking on the amount of time left to file a claim.
It can be extremely difficult to understand all of the complex laws that surround wrongful death cases. An experienced wrongful death attorney can explain exactly how litigation of this nature works as well as lay out your legal options.
What Elements Must Be Present In Order to Establish Wrongful Death in New York?
Sadly, just because a lost loved one has died as a result of negligence, that does not automatically mean that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on their behalf.
New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers, and Trusts Code requires the following five elements to establish a valid wrongful death claim:
- Death of the victim
- Behavior that is deemed to be negligent or reckless in nature
- A cause of legal action that the decedent could have pursued had they survived their injuries
- One or more individuals who have suffered economic losses due to the wrongful death
- Damages that the decedent’s estate can recover
Some of the damages that the victim’s family may be able to recover include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost inheritance
- Healthcare expenses such as any medical bills related to the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Lost wages and other financial support that the decedent would have contributed to the support of family members
- Pain and suffering that was endured by the deceased due to their final injury
- Interest on the final damages award, which is calculated from the date of death
Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent Me In a Wrongful Death Suit?
To prove wrongful death, you will need to meet the same burden of proof that the deceased would have had to meet for a personal injury claim if they had survived their injuries. Due to the overly complex laws that surround personal injury and wrongful death, you need a qualified attorney who:
Has the necessary training: A skilled wrongful death attorney has the training necessary to understand the various legal aspects that surround the wrongful death of your loved one. Because of your own personal involvement in the case, it may be easy to miss or misunderstand information that is vital to your case.
Can negotiate on your behalf: One aspect of wrongful death cases that cannot be overemphasized is that of being able to negotiate with the insurance company. This is of extreme importance in cases where you have opted to settle out of court rather than go to trial.
Repeatedly, insurance companies will try to undervalue or deny a wrongful death claim by blaming the decedent. You need an injury lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to the insurance company’s lawyers.
You can rest assured that the insurance provider will have their own legal team working to try to give you a settlement that is in their best interests and not your own.
Will seek maximum compensation: The two main goals in a wrongful death lawsuit are to recover compensation and to hold the responsible party accountable for the loss of your loved one.
By hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer, you significantly increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation for the wrongful death case. A lawyer who has prior experience and skill in these types of cases understands the type of litigation that is necessary in order for you to receive a fair settlement.
If you are considering filing a claim asserting that your loved one’s death was due to negligence, you need a highly qualified lawyer who will fight to get you the maximum compensation that you deserve. Contact the law firm of Passalacqua & Associates, LLC, by calling (315) 500-6425 and ask to schedule a free strategy session with a member of our legal team. We are proud to serve Syracuse, NY, and the surrounding areas. We can review your case and explore your legal options. We are committed to recovering a fair settlement for you and your family.