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What is the procedure for a wrongful death lawsuit in New York?

If a loved one has been involved in a fatal accident, it is important to understand the procedures that apply when seeking justice in a civil court of law.

Specifically, the decedent’s personal representative must bring a type of lawsuit called a wrongful death action. This type of lawsuit alleges that the negligence of one or more defendants caused the loved one’s death. The term applies in a variety of contexts, including construction accidents, traffic crashes, police misconduct, or even dangerous products.

The personal representative, appointed by the Surrogate’s Court during the probate process, will be responsible for proving the elements of negligence, causation, financial damages and that there is a surviving spouse or other beneficiaries, such as children, dependents or others.

Regarding damages, a wrongful death lawsuit may only seek compensation for the estate arising from economic loss and the decedent’s pain and suffering. The survivors cannot seek a recovery for their own grief, although winning a favorable a result may provide a sense of justice and assist survivors in their healing process. However, survivors may recover for the value of support and services, and the decedent’s children may recover for the loss of parental nurturing and education.

More specifically, the estate’s damage calculation may include the reasonable value of lost earnings between the initial injury and decedent’s death. Another allowable damage calculation is the cost of any medical or nursing care received prior to the decedent’s death. Finally, funeral expenses may also be factored into the calculation.

Our New York City law firm has helped many clients seek justice after the wrongful death of a loved one. We offer not only strong legal advocacy in bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, but the support needed during a time of grieving.

Source: New York City Bar, “Wrongful Death” copyright 2017, Association of the Bar of the City of New York

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