Harlem Wrongful Death Attorney
If a loved one was killed in an accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss. The untimely death of a family member can leave you with expensive economic effects, and filing a wrongful death claim might be necessary to help your family move forward.
With the help of our Harlem wrongful death attorneys, you can better understand what damages you are entitled to and what legal steps you should take to get compensation for your loved one’s death. While the damages paid in a wrongful death lawsuit can help with expenses brought on by the death as well as lost wages and other economic harms going forward, you are not usually entitled to damages for your grief and other non-economic damages.
Call our Harlem wrongful death attorneys for help with your wrongful death case today. At The Carrion Law Firm, we offer free case evaluations. Call us today at (718) 841-0083 for your free case review.
Proving a Wrongful Death Case in Harlem, NY
To get compensation for a loved one’s “wrongful death,” you need to understand what a wrongful death is, legally speaking, and what needs to be proven in your case. The legal aspects of your case might be confusing, and it is best to always work with an experienced Harlem wrongful death attorney.
What is a “Wrongful Death?”
A “wrongful death” is any death that occurs because of someone else’s negligence. There are many types of deadly accidents – such as car accidents, construction accidents, and injuries from dangerous or defective products – that could be avoided if someone had taken more care or used a higher degree of skill. When someone’s negligence is the root cause of your loved one’s death, the death can be considered a “wrongful death,” allowing a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed.
Generally, wrongful death cases deal with accidental deaths. However, intentional killings like murder or manslaughter can also allow wrongful death lawsuits alongside any criminal charges. Even if the criminal charges fail, the burden of proof is lower in civil wrongful death cases than in criminal cases, and victims might still recover compensation even if there is no criminal conviction.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
To prove your wrongful death case, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence was what caused your loved one’s death. This means proving that the defendant owed your loved one some kind of legal duty, that they breached that duty, and that the breach in question caused your loved one’s death.
People do not typically owe other random people any legal duties except the duty to refrain from intentionally injuring them. However, if there is some preexisting relationship between the two, then a legal duty might exist. For example, two drivers sharing the road owe each other many legal duties (such as the duties to follow traffic laws and drive with reasonable care and skill). As another example, a property owner owes duties to their guests (such as the duty to clear or warn of hidden dangers that could cause injury).
Any breach of duty could be sufficient for a wrongful death case as long as the death was “foreseeable.” Many wrongful death cases involve non-severe accidents or initial injuries that lead to surprisingly severe outcomes, such as a slip and fall that results in a deadly brain injury. This should still qualify as a wrongful death in New York, and our Harlem wrongful death attorneys can help you seek justice.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Harlem, NY
When you file a wrongful death case in New York, your Harlem, NY wrongful death lawyers will typically file two lawsuits together: a wrongful death action and a survival action. These lawsuits have some technical differences regarding how they are filed, what damages are paid, and how those damages are distributed.
Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death action seeks to compensate the family for the harms they personally faced because of their loved one’s death. These lawsuits are filed under E.P.T. Law § 5-4.1 by the victim’s “personal representative.” This means that the wrongful death lawsuit is not actually filed by the surviving family members unless the personal representative also happens to be a family member instead of a lawyer or other neutral representative. Typically, a personal representative is appointed in someone’s will, or the court will appoint a personal representative if there is no will.
Nearly any family member can ultimately receive damages through a wrongful death lawsuit, but they are distributed first to the spouse and children, if the victim had a spouse and children. Rules about how distribution works can be found in E.P.T. Law § 4-1.1.
Under E.P.T. Law § 5-4.3, these damages can only include “pecuniary injuries,” which essentially means economic damages only. This can include things like lost wages for the family, but not things like the family’s grief or pain and suffering. Talk to our Harlem wrongful death attorneys about the specific damages you can claim.
If any family members paid for end-of-life medical care, funeral and burial expenses, or other similar expenses, they can be reimbursed in this lawsuit.
When someone survives an injury, they can often file a wrongful death lawsuit for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If your loved one died in the accident, then the right to file a lawsuit for those pre-death damages “survives” them.
This survival action can be filed under E.P.T. Law § 11-3.2(b) by the personal representative and is allowed to be filed as part of the same case as the wrongful death lawsuit. The survival action compensates for the pre-death damages, including non-economic damages like the victim’s pain and suffering before death.
The damages in this lawsuit are paid into the estate, which is eventually distributed to the deceased victim’s heirs. If the estate paid for things like medical bills and funeral expenses, they can be reimbursed through this lawsuit instead of the wrongful death lawsuit. However, punitive damages are not available in this lawsuit.
Call Our Harlem Wrongful Death Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation
For a free case review with The Carrion Law Firm’s Harlem wrongful death lawyers, call us today at (718) 841-0083.