Wrongful death cases depend in large part on the state in which they are filed.
The state of New York requires you to prove five points to establish your wrongful death claim:
- Someone died
- The death was caused by the wrongful action of the defendant
- The wrongful act would be grounds for a suit even if death had not occurred
- The deceased is survived by one or more persons
- The estate can recover damages
The personal representatives of the deceased's estate is the party responsible for filing a wrongful death claim; family members are barred from bringing such claims to court unless they happen to be the personal representative. On the other hand, a wrongful death claim can seek damages for losses suffered by the deceased's heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees on top of damages for losses suffered by the estate.
What losses can be compensated?
If damages are awarded, the court treats the representative as if they hold the damages in a trust for the surviving family members since the proceeds belong to them.
Damages can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Reasonable medical, nursing, and other health care expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Lost inheritance suffered by surviving children
- Loss of parental nurturing, care, and guidance to surviving children
- 9% interest on damages awarded from date of death
Significantly, surviving family members are not allowed to recover damages for pain and suffering on their own behalf.
Personal representatives have only two years from the death to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations expires.
Consult with The Law Office of Charles R. Gueli if you have lost a loved one and would like to move forward with a wrongful death claim.