There is no remedy for the pain of losing a loved one. However, it is natural to seek justice, especially when someone else was at fault.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
A case involving wrongful death is a type of personal injury case. Typically, the injured party files a lawsuit to recover damages in a personal injury case. If an individual dies as a result of their injuries, they cannot file a lawsuit. That means someone else must file the form on their behalf.
According to the New York wrongful death statute, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed by the personal representative of a decedent for the wrongful act, neglect, or default that caused the decedent’s death.
Common causes of wrongful deaths in New York are automobile accidents, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents.
Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Claim?
New York differs from other states in terms of who can file a claim for wrongful death. In many states, close relatives can file a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased family member. Not the case in New York.
Instead, only the personal representative may file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Typically, this individual was designated in the decedent’s will. The personal representative is typically the executor of the will, administrator of the estate, or legal guardian. If no personal representative is designated prior to death, the court can appoint one to file the lawsuit.
The personal representative can file a lawsuit for wrongful death and seek compensation for the family. The personal representative will hold the money in a trust and supervise its management until the court orders its distribution to the family.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
In New York, wrongful death claims are typically based on negligence or an intentional act.
Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care that results in the injury of another person. When someone is negligent, they did not intend to cause harm; it was the result of careless behaviour. When someone acts intentionally, they perform a specific action on purpose. Intentionally causing the death of another person may also constitute a crime.
To prove a case of wrongful death in New York, the following elements must be presented:
- Someone died
- The defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct caused the decedent’s death.
- If the deceased had survived, they could have filed a personal injury lawsuit.
- The family suffered financial and emotional losses as a result of the death.
- The total amount of damages
If you can prove each of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, you will likely prevail in your wrongful death lawsuit and be awarded damages.
What Evidence is Used in a Wrongful Death Claim?
You must present sufficient evidence for the court to rule in your favour, but not all types of evidence are admissible. The New York Rules of Evidence govern admissible and inadmissible courtroom evidence. It also governs how attorneys may question witnesses.
The evidence in a wrongful death trial will vary from case to case, but the following are the most common:
- A copy of the death certificate or an autopsy report must be presented.
- Witness statements
- Relevant police reports
- Photographic and video documentation of the injuries
- Statements or admissions made by the defendant
- Documents detailing the decedent’s injuries and the official cause of death.
- Expert testimony pertinent to the case’s scientific and medical issues
If you intend to file a claim for wrongful death, you must take the time to collect evidence and secure it for court. Additionally, you should hire a wrongful death attorney to investigate the cause of death and collect the necessary evidence to win the case. An experienced attorney will advise you on the most effective (and ineffective) pieces of evidence for your case.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm
Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.