New York City’s Wrongful Death Laws

A person’s right to file a wrongful death lawsuit varies from state to state.  Unfortunately, New York has some of the most limited laws in the country in this regard.  Surviving family members often find it difficult to get the compensation they deserve—a heartbreaking reality on top of an already tragic loss.  Still, wrongful death lawsuits are winnable, especially with an expert attorney on your side.  Monetary judgments can provide economic support in a time of great tragedy and provide a solid foundation for a future ultimately changed by tragic accidents or the reckless actions of others.

What is Wrongful Death?

The short definition of wrongful death, as laid out by the law, is a death that results from the negligent action or inaction of one party—either an individual person or a company.  A wrongful death lawsuit will determine who is financially responsible for the victim’s death and the amount of damages the surviving spouse and children are entitled to.
While deliberate actions can cause wrongful deaths, most are the result of non-deliberate actions (negligent driving) or inaction (failure to lockout danger zones resulting in construction accidents).

What Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Mean for You?

Depending on the circumstances, compensation may be awarded for lost wages over the victim’s worklife expectancy, and even loss of fringe benefits (such as pension).  But recovering compensation under New York State laws may be more difficult than you may think.

Various laws apply to wrongful death lawsuits in New York City, the most important being the Estate Powers and Trust Law.  The provisions of this law provide that financial reimbursement may be considered for medical aid, nursing, and funeral expenses “in addition to every other lawful element.”  That last clause has allowed wrongful death lawyers to sue for damages other than those enumerated in the statute.

For instance, the verdict in the 1980 case of Parrilis v. Feldman allows beneficiaries (called distributees in legal terms) to sue for the benefits—monetary or otherwise—that the victim should have earned or collected had he or she lived.

Another important precedent , the Matter of Reynolds, allows judges and juries to take into account the decedent’s entire lifelong earnings when calculating an award.  To do this, a reasonable life expectancy is calculated based on age, health history, local and national averages, and host of other data.  It’s then used to calculate the overall amount of income, benefits, and other financial assets the deceased would have accumulated over their entire lifetime, had it not been cut short.

Current New York Wrongful death law also takes into account intangible assistance when calculating just how much the surviving family members can possibly recover.  This includes support (financial or otherwise) that only a parent can provide to minors and “voluntary support” that the deceased may have offered to other distributes.

You Need a Lawyer On Your Side

Wrongful death lawsuits can help ease the pain of a loss by ensuring financial security for the future.  Though nothing can ever replace the loss of a loved one, the feeling of relief that comes with a successful verdict can lighten the burden of trying to go it alone.

However, as you can see, wrongful death law is very complicated—especially in New York City—and having an experienced NYC wrongful death attorney on your side is really the only way to get everything you or your loved ones deserve.

Depending on the circumstances, the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in New York is only two years.  Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-11212 to review your situation; get the process started and to help you with this painful ordeal.