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Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York

wrongful death, newspaper article text

The loss of a loved one is an incredibly difficult event, especially if that loss was preventable.  In such cases, the family of the deceased may have a claim for damages against the parties responsible.  These “wrongful death” claims may arise after car crashes, defective product failures, medical malpractice, or other instances of negligence or recklessness by outside parties.  The legal process and requirements for bringing a wrongful death claim vary by jurisdiction, and New York’s wrongful death rules, in particular, are very specific.  Read on to learn about New York’s rules regarding wrongful death lawsuits, and contact a skilled New York personal injury and wrongful death attorney if your loved one has been injured or killed as a result of negligence in the Hudson Valley.

Defining “wrongful death” in New York

In New York, wrongful death claims are essentially personal injury claims that would have been brought by the deceased had they survived.  To bring a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must satisfy five elements:

  1. A death occurred;
  2. The death was the result of conduct by the defendant;
  3. The defendant’s conduct would have given rise to a cause of action for the deceased that they could have brought in court had they survived;
  4. One or more persons who suffered a loss as a result of the death (distributees, children, or dependents of the victim) survived;
  5. Monetary damages resulted from the death.

Wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations in New York.  In other words, the plaintiff must bring the wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the person’s death.

Eligible parties to bring a wrongful death claim

New York has very strict rules about who may bring a wrongful death claim.  Wrongful death claims can be brought by:

  • A child of the decedent;
  • A parent of the decedent;
  • A spouse of the decedent; or
  • The personal representative of the estate of the decedent.

If the decedent has no surviving child, parent, or spouse, then it may be possible for another blood relative such as a sibling or cousin to bring a wrongful death claim.  However, New York typically will allow other relatives to bring such claims only if that person has been named as a personal representative of the estate of the deceased.

The party who brings the claim may seek any damages that would have been available to the deceased (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering incurred before death, etc.), as well as losses suffered by the deceased person’s heirs, beneficiaries, devisees, and estate (such as funeral expenses, the value of the deceased person’s financial support, loss of inheritance, etc.).  The surviving family members may not, however, claim damages for their own grief, such as emotional pain and suffering.

Justice, Accountability and Financial Help After the Death of Loved One in New York’s Hudson Valley

If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed by someone else’s negligence in New York, find out if you have a right to compensation by contacting the talented, dedicated and effective Hudson Valley personal injury lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a free consultation at 845-331-4100 (Kingston) or 845-236-4411 (Marlboro).

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