When it comes to unnatural deaths, they can be
intentional or they can be
accidental. When a death is intentional, the at-fault party will likely face criminal
charges. In contrast, an accidental death would not normally lead to
criminal charges, but it can lead to a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. Drunk driving
accidents are an exception. Often, these can lead to criminal charges
personal injury lawsuit.
Each state has enacted wrongful death laws and New York is no exception.
Under the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Code Part 4, the following
must be established to have grounds for a wrongful death claim:
- A death occurred,
- The death was caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct,
- If the death had not occurred, the decedent would have had a cause of action,
- One or more surviving family members suffered a loss due to the untimely
- There are damages the decedent’s estate can recover.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Unlike many other states, surviving spouses and children cannot file their
own wrongful death claims in New York. Instead, wrongful death claims
must be filed by the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s
estate. A close family member can
only bring a wrongful death action if they are
also the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
However, the personal representative of the estate has every right to seek
damages on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members, heirs,
or beneficiaries. If damages are awarded, the personal representative
is responsible for disbursing the damages award to the rightful heirs
of the decedent’s estate.
Common damages in a wrongful death claim:
- Loss of inheritance.
- Lost income from the deceased.
- Loss of parental guidance, nurturing and care.
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased.
- Medical and healthcare expenses belonging to the decedent prior to their death.
- Funeral and burial costs.
In New York, a wrongful death claim must be filed within
two years of the decedent’s date of death. This is known as the “statute
of limitations” or the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim.
If a claim is not filed within two years, the window closes and a claim
can no longer be filed.
To file a wrongful death claim in Buffalo,
contact our firm
at (716) 951-5040 to schedule a consultation.