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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York?

When filing a wrongful death claim in New York, it is imperative to know the laws that govern the process.

When someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is possible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the incident. There are a number of situations that can lead to such a claim in New York, such as a car accident, defective product, instance of medical malpractice or a slip-and-fall.

Under state law, only certain people may be able to file the suit. Additionally, there are a number of items that the plaintiff must be able to prove in order to secure damages.

Filing the claim

In accordance with the law, only the following may bring a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The decedent’s spouse
  • The decedent’s parent
  • The decedent’s child
  • The decedent’s estate’s personal or court-appointed representative

When there is no spouse, parent or child surviving the deceased, it may be possible for another blood relative, such as a sibling, to bring the claim. However, typically, the person must have been named as personal or court-appointed representative of the deceased in order to do so.

It should also be noted that there is a two-year statute of limitations on these claims. In other words, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the person’s death.

Proving the claim

Once the suit has been filed, a plaintiff and his or her attorney will have to get to work building the case. There are several items that must be proven for a successful claim. First, it must be shown that the defendant in the case acted negligently and that the defendant’s negligent act or failure to act resulted in the person’s death. For example, in the case of a car accident, the plaintiff may be able to prove that the defendant had been speeding, following too closely, improperly changing lanes or texting while driving, which caused the fatal crash.

The claim will need to include the survivors or beneficiaries who would receive any award. That award will be based on the financial damages the incident has caused. In New York, the only damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit are the economic losses, such as medical and funeral expenses and lost wages, and the conscious pain and suffering that the decedent may have experienced as a result of the accident.

There is no award given for the grief that the survivors are enduring. However, if the decedent leaves behind children, they may be able to secure damages for the loss of the guidance and education that their parent would have been able to provide.

Anyone who has further questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in New York.


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