How much can you sue for wrongful death?
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, pursuing a wrongful death claim may be the furthest thing from your mind. No amount of compensation can truly replace the life of beloved family members or loved ones, but the truth is that you may need the money.
The state of New York allows certain surviving family members and other parties with standing to pursue wrongful death damages for medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earnings of the deceased person, funeral and burial costs, pain and suffering, and more.
Jesse Minc is a Bronx personal injury lawyer who holds negligent parties accountable for their roles in wrongful deaths. He can help you receive justice for a victim’s death and recover damages. Call today. Mr. Minc works on a contingency basis, and there are no out-of-pocket costs.
Prevalence of Accidental Deaths in the U.S.
In 2017, the CDC identified unintentional or accidental injury as the leading cause of death across most age groups.
Types of Claimants in Wrongful Death Cases
In the state of New York, the estate’s personal representative must be the party who initiates a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased. However, the following family members who can collect from a wrongful death case in New York are listed under New York Consolidated Law §4-1.1:
- If there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, they will split the proceeds of a wrongful death settlement or a court award in a wrongful death suit.
- If there is a spouse but no children, the spouse will collect the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- If there is no spouse and no children, the deceased person’s parents may collect the proceeds from the wrongful death case if they are among the surviving family members.
- If there is no spouse, children, or parents, a sibling or siblings can initiate and collect from a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Grandparents may collect the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit if there is no spouse, parents, children, or siblings.
It’s important to note that each category is subordinated to the ones above it. For instance, a sibling has no claim if there is a spouse; grandparents cannot make a claim if there are surviving siblings, etc.
Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts and Damages
Unlike other types of personal injury claims, wrongful death settlements include items that are not considered in cases where the victim survives. Like other types of personal injury claims, any potential settlement has three types of compensation.
Any financial losses that the deceased person’s estate incurs due to the accident are included in economic damages. This is not limited to burial expenses. For instance, consider a case where the victim is involved in a car accident that leads to their death a month after the accident. They may have spent most of that time in the hospital or under the care of a physician or nurse. These medical expenses and other costs are part of the economic losses suffered by the estate and should be a part of the wrongful death settlement amount.
Economic damages are not only medical expenses, however. They can also include lost wages, future lost wages, lost benefits, property damage, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
The state of New York not only considers expenses related to the decedent’s death as part of fair compensation. For instance, there is also any pain and suffering that the accident caused the victim. In addition, there are emotional losses suffered by the family member or members because of the loved one’s death.
Non-economic damages seek to assess a monetary value for intangible losses. Any valid settlement amount should include intangible damages.
Punitive damages are additional amounts that the court awards in a wrongful death case when the at-fault party’s negligence is egregious or their actions were intentional. There are no limits to punitive damages in the state of New York, but they are not awarded as compensation in all personal injury cases.
Factors that Affect a Wrongful Death Settlement
There are a number of elements that affect the amount of a wrongful death settlement. Attorney Jesse Minc will be happy to review all of the considerations in a one-on-one private consultation. In the mean time, here are some factors that can affect a wrongful death claim.
- The degree of liability of the defendant. New York follows the contributory negligence principle, which means that the defendant only has to pay proportionately to their negligent actions. In other words, if their negligence causes only 80% of an accident, they’re only responsible for 80% of the damages.
- The age of the deceased. When calculating future earnings, the age of the deceased becomes relevant in wrongful death lawsuits. The younger the individual was at the time of death, the greater the amount of future earnings.
- How long they suffered prior to death. If the victim was languishing in the hospital for a period of time prior to their death, it could be assumed that their pain and suffering were substantial. This can affect compensation. This is independent of the cost of medical care while the deceased was in the hospital.
- Degree of financial support. If the surviving family members depended on the deceased for financial support, emotional support, household services, etc., it would typically increase the average wrongful death settlement amount.
The type of work you do affects the likelihood that you will suffer a fatal accident. The following chart compares New York accidental deaths at the workplace to the country as a whole.
Jesse Minc is an experienced wrongful death lawyer who has a reputation for helping his clients get maximum compensation from their wrongful death claims. Call today to discuss your wrongful death case.
What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Suit
It’s important to be emotionally and mentally prepared when you’re involved with a wrongful death case. Here are a few things that you can do to prepare for your appointment with attorney Minc or an experienced attorney in your area.
- Make copies of all documentation related to the case. You can scan the physical documents into a file and deliver them electronically to your attorney if they say that’s sufficient. Documents should include all medical records resulting from the accident, tax returns (to establish income), photographs that show your loved one’s physical state before and after the accident (if they survived for some time afterward), etc.
- Be prepared to discuss your loved one with Mr. Minc and eventually with opposing counsel.
- Don’t expect immediate results. The average wrongful death settlement can take more than a year, depending on the compensation involved.
- Most wrongful death cases settle out of court, but you should know that litigation is a possibility. If this is the case, Jesse Minc is a battle-tested litigator.
There is a process for negotiating wrongful death settlements. Know that while you are trying to put your life back together, attorney Jesse Minc will be working on your claim.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death in NY
The following are some of the most commonly asked questions by family members who have experienced the loss of a loved one. For specific information about your case, call Jesse Minc Personal Injury Law, today.
What is the average settlement for wrongful death lawsuits?
While many people ask this question, it’s almost impossible to answer because every wrongful death suit is different. For example, a victim subject to a long hospital stay may warrant a greater settlement amount than one who died instantly in a vehicle collision. Similarly, a medical malpractice suit where the hospital was 100% responsible for medical errors may have a higher average settlement amount than a case where the deceased was partially responsible for their accident.
With wrongful death settlements, attorneys tend to look at the average settlement in similar cases with similar injuries.
What types of compensation can I receive if I file a wrongful death claim?
If you are a family member who can collect damages, you should be entitled to all hospital expenses and other medical costs, past lost wages, future lost earnings, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and more. Attorney Minc can provide an exhaustive list of all damages when he meets with you.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Under N.Y. Est.s & Trusts Law § 5-4.1 (2021), the estate has two years from the time of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Note that this is not always the same date as the accident. For instance, if a person was injured in a car accident but died in the hospital later, the date of death will start the clock.
Bronx Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have a loved one who has died in an accident due to the negligence of another, attorney Jesse Minc would like to speak with you. Jesse Minc is an experienced legal professional with an unparalleled track record. He will review your case and represent you on a contingency basis, which means you do not have to pay out of pocket for his legal advice. Contact Jesse Minc Personal Injury Law today for a free case consultation.