Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death: Action for damages that arises when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful conduct of another. These cases can arise out of construction accidents, medical malpractice, vehicular accidents, police misconduct and product liability cases involving defective, dangerous products.

What are the elements of a wrongful death case?

Only the personal representative of a deceased person as appointed by Surrogate’s Court can bring a wrongful death action in New York. The representative must prove the defendant:

  • Acted negligently
  • The negligence caused the deceased person’s death
  • There is a surviving spouse, children, or other beneficiaries or dependents
  • The survivor(s) have suffered financial damage as a result

What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action?

Only two elements of damage may be recovered in a wrongful death action: economic loss and the conscious pain and suffering of the deceased. The survivors cannot recover for their pain and suffering, i.e., their grief.

The estate’s economic recovery includes the reasonable value of earnings lost between the time of an initial injury to the deceased and the time of death, the cost of medical/nursing care prior to death, and funeral expenses. Survivors may recover the value of support and services; remarriage of a spouse will not reduce the award. Children of the deceased may additionally recover for loss of parental nurturing, guidance and education.

I am a survivor of someone whose death was wrongfully caused by another:

  • Document your claim
  • Begin the process of probating the deceased’s estate, so that a personal representative can be appointed
  • Your time to sue is limited; contact an experienced personal injury lawyer

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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