While wrongful death lawsuits in New York are often filed by the executor or personal representative of one’s estate, they are typically assumed to be filed on behalf of a decedent’s family. This is often the case, as the potential financial compensation that can come from such action is often meant to benefit the family. Yet depending on the circumstances of a case, it may be possible that a decedent’s family may not be beneficiaries of a wrongful death action, but rather the target of it. 

That is exactly what is happening with a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of a four-month-old baby girl in Virginia. The girl is suspected to have died of sudden infant death syndrome, yet the lawsuit alleges that several factors overlooked by the area’s Social Services department placed her at risk. For starters, she was born addicted to drugs, which should have flagged her case as being “high risk.” Rather, she was determined to be at a low risk and released to her parents. No further investigations of the case were done by child protective services officials until and external complaint was filed. An investigator was assigned, and it was noticed that the child was living in dirty conditions and that drugs were present at the home; local law enforcement officials even recommended that the parents be drug tested. No further action was taken, however, prior to the baby’s death. 

In this case, the parents (who were both initially charged with felony murder) were named as defendants in the lawsuit along with local Social Services officials (the lawsuit was filed by the administrator of the girl’s estate). Those needing to take similar action in cases of wrongful death may first wish to secure the services of an experienced attorney.