Brooklyn Wrongful Death Attorney
Coping with a family member’s death is difficult, even after the passage of time. Memories come flooding back to remind you of the good times you enjoyed together. When a loved one’s death was preventable and caused by the carelessness and negligence of another, the loss feels even greater.
The O’Connor Law Firm stands ready to assist anyone who has lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence. Wrongful death lawsuits provide compensation to the estate and to family members, but you need a seasoned advocate who understands how to bring these claims. Contact us today so we can help guide you through the process.
Brooklyn Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Brooklyn wrongful death lawsuits are civil suits filed in Supreme court. The purpose of the lawsuit is to seek compensation for your loved one’s death.
What deaths are “wrongful” under New York law? Section 5-4.1 of the New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Laws provides the answer. It states that you can sue if your loved one died due to someone else’s neglect, default, or wrongful act. For example, we can bring these lawsuits for deaths caused by car accidents, bus accidents, falls, work accidents, and much more. In the lawsuit, we argue that the defendant did not use sufficient care and, as a result, your loved one was injured and killed.
Wrongful death cases are not criminal. The prosecutor files criminal charges for criminal acts. Some crimes — like manslaughter or homicide — can also support a wrongful death lawsuit. But a defendant’s conduct might not be criminal, only negligent, which nonetheless supports a lawsuit for wrongful death damages. Let us analyze whether you can bring a claim for compensation.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Brooklyn
Now that you know what a wrongful death claim is, you are probably wondering who can file it. New York invests responsibility with the estate’s personal representative. Your loved one’s will should have named this person as the executor, or, if there was no will, the court will appoint someone to act as the estate’s administrator. Usually, a close family member is appointed to fulfill this role.
Although the representative files the wrongful death suit, any compensation goes to family members as beneficiaries. For this reason, family members should be intimately involved in the entire legal process and should reach out to an attorney to review whether they have a claim.
A survivorship claim is very similar to wrongful death, and we can file this action in court at the same time. Whereas a wrongful death claim belongs to family members, a survivorship action actually belongs to your loved one’s estate. The purpose is to compensate the estate for your loved one’s pain and suffering endured before death.
A good way to think of a survivorship action is that your loved one could have brought it had they lived; because they died, the estate files it. Any compensation the estate receives is distributed according to the will. If there is no will, then New York’s intestacy laws will determine how to divide the compensation.
Compensation for Wrongful Death
As mentioned earlier, wrongful death cases are civil, not criminal. The civil court system exists to compensate people with monetary damages. This might sound odd. After all, no amount of money can replace your loved one. Nevertheless, you are being compensated for losses in the only way a civil court can — with a financial award.
What damages can our clients receive? The goal is to make them “whole” following a loved one’s loss and can include things like:
- Funeral or burial expenses. Burying a loved one can be expensive, and typically a family member foots the bill. They can receive compensation in a settlement or jury award for what they paid.
- Medical bills. Any bills related to your loved one’s care before death should be compensated.
- Loss of expected financial support. If your loved one provided financially for you through a job, you should receive compensation to make up for this lost support. The amount will depend on your loved one’s age, as well as his or her expected wages.
- Loss of possible inheritance. A loved one’s death could deprive a person of a reasonably expected inheritance, and a court can award compensation for this type of loss.
- Loss of parental guidance. Children who lose a parent lose out on having a solid role model in their lives. This type of loss is not economic in nature, but compensation is still available to attempt to make up for the gaping hole in their life.
Unfortunately, New York typically prevents family members from seeking compensation for the pain and suffering they endure after losing a close family member. New York is definitely an outlier in that respect. Pain and suffering damages are available in only narrow situations, such as if you were involved in a car accident with your loved one and watched them expire.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
We wish that family members had an unlimited amount of time to bring a wrongful death claim. Unfortunately, they do not. In general, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of death. A survivorship action must be filed within three years of the accident or one year of death, whichever occurs later. These time limits can be even shorter if a wrongful death claim is the result of municipal negligence caused by a government agency or other public entity.
If the personal representative waits too long to file, a New York judge will dismiss the lawsuit. Sadly, this happens far too often in our court system, which means family members are deprived of the financial compensation they need following shocking death. Reach out to a Brooklyn wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Government Defendants & Wrongful Death Claims
Your loved one might have died due to the wrongful conduct of a government employee. If so, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the state, city or other public entity. For example, a subway accident could have killed a family member, in which case you would probably sue the New York City Transit Authority.
Different rules apply to government defendants than to private citizens. Your attorney should understand the differences.
First, you must submit a written claim to the relevant government agency before you can sue. You cannot simply march into court without satisfying this administrative requirement. In fact, you have a very tight deadline to actually file your notice of claim — typically, only 90 days. Many people are still in a state of shock at their loved one’s death at this point and might miss the deadline entirely.
Second, when you can sue, you have different court deadlines. A survivorship claim, for example, must be filed in court one year and 90 days from the day of the accident when a government agency is the defendant.
These deadlines are confusing, and many family members naturally have no idea if a government agency or employee is to blame for their loved one’s death. All they know is that their spouse or child did not come home. We cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is to quickly meet with an attorney following the death to protect your rights to compensation.
Speak with Our Experienced Brooklyn Wrongful Death Attorney
The days following a loved one’s death are dark and painful. Still, there is hope. At The O’Connor Law Firm, we know that no sum of money can mitigate the loss you have experienced. Nevertheless, a wrongful death settlement can lessen the financial stress that families feel when a loved one passes unexpectedly. Reach out to us today and let us show you how we can help.