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Filing a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one

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When a loved one suffers fatal injuries as a result of a car accident, assault, exposure to hazardous chemicals or fall; it’s important to thoroughly investigate what factors may have caused or contributed to his or her premature death. While nothing can undo the mistakes or negligent acts that may have contributed to a loved one’s death, surviving family members can take legal action to help prevent similar future events.

For individuals who choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit, there are certain requirements that must be met. For example, an individual’s death must result from “another’s negligence, or with intent to cause harm.” Additionally, surviving family members must suffer financial hardship as a result of a loved one’s death and only an appointed estate representative can file a wrongful death claim.

If successful, damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are based upon the amount of financial loss or injury suffered by surviving family members as a result of a loved one’s death. These damages frequently include expenses incurred for medical and funeral expenses. Also, in cases where an individual has a surviving spouse or children, damages related to “loss of support” must be considered and decided upon.

Factors including the age at which an individual died, his or her current income and earning capacity and health must be taken into account. In cases where an individual was a parent, loss of parental guidance and general financial support are also key issues. Additionally, the specific circumstances of surviving family members should also bear weight on a jury’s decision.

Families who have lost a loved one under tragic or questionable circumstances deserve answers and, in the case where negligence is a factor, compensation for their loss.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Wrongful Death Overview,” May 7, 2015

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.