By: Passalacqua & Associates

What Evidence Do You Need to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

Latest News

Have You Lost a Loved One Because Someone Else Was Negligent?

Have you unexpectedly and abruptly lost a family member due to another person’s recklessness, negligence, or intentional wrongdoing? If you’ve lost a loved one this way – or if this happens to your family in the future – arrange at once to consult a Syracuse wrongful death attorney.

Far too often, traffic crashes are the cause of wrongful deaths in the Syracuse area. Medical malpractice also continues to be a leading cause of wrongful death. If someone dies because someone else was reckless or negligent, what recourse do the surviving family members have?

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?

After a wrongful death in the State of New York, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the decedent’s spouse, child, or parent. Another person may bring a wrongful death claim only if that person has been named as the representative or executor of the decedent’s estate.

After the tragic and abrupt loss of someone you love, a wrongful death action may help the survivors move forward with their lives and avoid financial hardship. How is a “wrongful” death defined in New York, and what does it take for a family to prevail with a wrongful death claim?

What Constitutes Wrongful Death in New York?

The law in New York defines “wrongful death” as a death caused by another person’s “wrongful act, neglect or default,” meaning a death that would have entitled the decedent to file a personal injury lawsuit if the decedent had survived.

Wrongful death is not unusual in this state. Traffic fatalities caused by reckless and negligent motorists are considered wrongful deaths. A child can become a wrongful death victim if he or she tries to pet an aggressive dog or enters into an unlocked swimming pool area.

Accidental deaths at construction sites are usually wrongful deaths. Wrongful deaths happen far too frequently in on-the-job accidents, incidents of medical malpractice, traffic crashes, and whenever recklessness or negligence causes a preventable death.

How Can Your Family Prevail With a Claim for Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death case is handled like a personal injury case. To prevail with a claim for wrongful death in the State of New York, the surviving family members (or “plaintiffs”) and their Syracuse wrongful death lawyer must prove the following “elements” of the wrongful death claim:

  1.  The defendant (that is, the party being sued) legally owed the victim a duty of care (for example, to drive safely, to eliminate dangerous hazards on a private property, or to perform a surgery with proper care and diligence).
  2.  The defendant breached the legal duty of care, thus causing the victim’s wrongful death.
  3.  The wrongful death resulted in economic damages (medical bills and lost wages, for example) along with noneconomic damages such as personal pain and suffering, and the decedent’s survivors are entitled by law to recover compensation for these damages.

Will Your Wrongful Death Claim Require a Trial?

Most wrongful death claims are resolved privately and outside of the courtroom. However, if your claim cannot be privately settled, and your case goes to trial, your wrongful death attorney must prove each of the elements of your claim.

For example, even if your attorney proves that a defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, you can’t recover compensation unless your attorney also proves that you have suffered compensable damages.

In some cases, a wrongful death attorney may solicit testimony or a statement from a medical authority, a crash reconstruction specialist, or another expert witness in order to prove one or more elements of your wrongful death claim.

When Will You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Your family’s grief may be inconsolable after losing a loved one, and no sum of money can truly compensate you for that loss, but your family’s future is a genuine concern. You must arrange to speak with a Syracuse & Utica wrongful death attorney as soon as you can after a wrongful death.

New York’s statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim gives the surviving family members two years after the death to take legal action, but you cannot wait for two years to speak with an attorney. Your family needs to contact a Syracuse wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.

If your loved one died in a traffic crash, for instance, your lawyer needs to review the evidence while it’s fresh and question any witnesses before their recollections fade. Evidence can deteriorate or disappear over time, and witnesses can also disappear or become difficult to locate.

What Can Surviving Family Members Recover?

The compensatory damages that family members can recover are both “noneconomic” and “economic” damages. Economic damages reimburse family members for the financial losses that arise from a wrongful death, such as:

  1.  the funeral and cremation or burial costs
  2.  the decedent’s final medical bills
  3.  the future benefits and wages that would have been earned if the decedent had survived
  4.  the replacement or repair of property damaged or destroyed in the wrongful death event

Noneconomic damages are intended to compensate survivors for the noneconomic losses they sustain due to the wrongful death, such as:

  1.  the loss of the decedent’s guidance, companionship, and affection
  2.  the loss of the services that the decedent provided
  3.  the emotional pain and suffering of the survivors

Some states place a cap on the amount that juries may award in wrongful death cases, but not New York. The law in this state ensures that a victim’s family is not denied any of the compensation they may need.

Passalacqua & Associates is Here for Your Family

Now or in the future, having the right New York wrongful death lawyer can make the difference when your family files a claim for wrongful death. The award-winning legal team at Passalacqua & Associates has over three decades of experience representing wrongful death survivors.

Passalacqua & Associates knows what it takes to succeed with your family’s claim for wrongful death. We have a proven track record in wrongful death and personal injury cases. We represent the survivors of wrongful death on a contingent fee basis, so your family will pay no fee up front and no attorney’s fee until and unless Passalacqua & Associates recovers your compensation.

If you’re in or near the Utica or Syracuse area, you can learn more about your rights as a wrongful death survivor – or begin the legal process now – by calling Passalacqua & Associates at 315-277-3548 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your wrongful death claim.