Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | June 10, 2022 | Wrongful Death
A wrongful death action is a claim against a party who caused another person’s death. Wrongful death can occur because of negligent acts or intentional wrongdoing. However, the common factor is that a party’s conduct resulted in the death of a person.
Any type of accident can result in a wrongful death claim. Three common examples of wrongful death cases in New York City include:
Thousands of people are killed in traffic accidents each year. According to the NHTSA, 2020 was the deadliest year for traffic fatalities since 2007. The crash data shows that 38,824 people died in traffic accidents in 2020.
Wrongful death claims may arise from accidents involving:
- Passenger car accidents
- Pickup trucks
- Commercial trucks (semi-trucks)
- Delivery vans
- Scooters and mopeds
Tragically, most traffic fatalities are preventable. Negligence and driver error are the most common causes of traffic deaths.
Examples of causes of fatal accidents in New York City include:
- Distracted driving
- Disobeying traffic laws
- Drunk driving
- Drowsy driving
- Reckless driving
- Road rage and aggressive driving
A person who causes a traffic death could face criminal charges and be sued in civil court for causing a wrongful death. The burden of proving a wrongful death case in civil court is lower than proving a case by a reasonable doubt in criminal court. The civil case does not depend on the outcome of the criminal case.
Premises Liability Claims
Property owners owe a duty of care to the people who come onto their property to provide safe premises. The duty of care extends to residential homeowners, business owners, landlords, government entities, and other property owners.
If your loved one dies because of an accident on another party’s property, you could have a wrongful death claim against the property owner.
Common examples of premises liability cases that could result in a wrongful death lawsuit include, but are not limited to:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Electrical accidents
- Food poisoning
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Swimming pool accidents
- Building collapse
- Explosions and fires
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Elevator accidents
A property owner did not need to intend for your loved one to die to be held accountable for damages. However, if the property owner’s negligence led to your family member’s death, you may recover compensation for damages caused by the wrongful death.
Tragically, physicians cannot save every person. Even with the best medical care, people pass away. However, when medical negligence and errors cause a person’s death, the result could be a wrongful death action.
Examples of medical malpractice that could result in a wrongful death case include:
- Failing to monitor a patient
- Surgical errors
- Labor and birth injuries
- Failure to diagnosis
- Failing to order diagnostic tests
- Not reviewing a patient’s medical history
- Performing procedures and treatments without informed consent
- Medication errors
- Misdiagnosis of a condition
- Failure to refer a patient to or consult with a specialist
- Anesthesia errors
Intentional wrongdoing may also result in a wrongful death action.
For example, a doctor performs a medical procedure while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Another example might be intentionally failing to perform a medical procedure because the patient cannot afford to pay for a necessary life-saving procedure.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York City?
Most states allow surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, New York wrongful death laws require the personal representative for the deceased person’s estate to file the wrongful death action.
Generally, an individual’s will nominates a person to serve as a personal representative. However, if the decedent does not have a will, the state will appoint someone to administer the estate.
What Damages Can a Family Receive in an NYC Wrongful Death Action?
New York wrongful death statutes permit family members to recover damages for:
- Cremation, funeral, and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income provided by the deceased
- Parental care
- Household services
The damages compensate family members for their economic damages. Economic damages represent financial losses incurred by the family because of the death of their loved one.
Unfortunately, New York does not permit family members to receive compensation for their non-economic damages. Non-economic damages represent emotional distress, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
In addition to a wrongful death action, there may be grounds for a survivorship action. A survivorship action seeks damages that the decedent could have recovered had they lived.
For example, the estate can recover money for expenses incurred from the time of the injury through the person’s death. The estate could also recover compensation for pain and suffering if the decedent had cognitive awareness of their suffering after the injury.
A New York City wrongful death lawyer will review your case and provide legal advice regarding your options to hold the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions.