How is the Value of a Wrongful Death Case Determined in New York?

A wrongful death lawsuit is often brought by the family of a person who passed away because of someone else’s negligent or malicious behavior. This is a very painful and emotional experience, and you deserve to have all your damages compensated.

The value of your wrongful death case may be determined by calculating your claimable damages. Damages may include the losses or injuries your loved one experienced before they passed and considerable financial costs you might have incurred because of the loss. Punitive damages might also be available, which can be very significant if awarded. Certain damages, like a surviving family’s grief, are typically not compensated in New York. While we can help you argue for damages in court, the final award amount is up to a jury or judge. Our team can help you take the steps necessary to maximize your damages and get the most compensation possible for your grievous loss.

Losing a loved one is a horrible experience to go through, and your losses deserve compensation from the people responsible. Contact our New York wrongful death attorneys for a free case review today. Call The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.

Determining the Value of a Wrongful Death Case in New York

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of another person’s wrongful actions or neglect. Many wrongful death cases involve unintentional accidents, but some cases involve malicious or intentional acts by defendants. Wrongful death cases are commonly connected to criminal cases against defendants. Your civil lawsuit might be put on hold until criminal proceedings against the defendant are complete.

The damages in a wrongful death are a bit complicated because they involve losses and injuries to a person who is no longer with us. Since the deceased person cannot file a lawsuit for their own death, their family members may do so for them.

According to EPT Law § 5-4.1(1), a wrongful death case may be brought by a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If the personal representative is not a family member and refuses to bring the lawsuit, the family may have an administrator appointed to prosecute the case.

The value of damages in a wrongful death case depends on the pecuniary losses experienced by the deceased person before they passed away and the losses of surviving family members. The value of these cases is often quite high, and our Long Island wrongful death attorneys can help you accurately calculate damages.

Damages Available in a New York Wrongful Death Case

The damages available in a wrongful death case are detailed under EPT Law § 5-4.3. They include the injuries sustained by the deceased person because of the defendant’s actions. In New York, punitive damages may also be awarded in cases where the defendant’s behavior was especially reprehensible.

Our New York wrongful death lawyers can help you determine the extent of all these damages to understand how much your case is worth. Knowing the value of your case can help you advocate for fair compensation and negotiate a settlement if you so wish.

Pecuniary Losses

Pecuniary losses are the expenses experienced by the deceased before they passed away. Even in cases where the deceased person passed away rather quickly, such as after a bad car accident, there might still be costly pecuniary losses. Remember, these are losses experienced by the deceased person, not their family.

If your loved one received medical treatment for their injuries before passing away, those medical bills should be included in your damages calculations. Ambulance rides, emergency room visits, surgeries, medication, and any other treatments can drive up the value of your wrongful death lawsuit.

Other medical expenses might include the cost of home care or nursing. A wrongful death does not have to occur immediately, and the deceased individual might have been receiving ongoing medical care for some time before they ultimately died from their injuries.

In addition, the value of lost property and income may drive up the total value of your case. The deceased person might have lost valuable property or belongings in an accident. For example, if they died in a car accident, you can claim the value of their vehicle. If your loved one lost time from work and lost income due to their injuries, those lost earnings should also be claimed.

Pecuniary losses you or other family members experience can also be claimed. For example, the law states that you can recover expenses for funerals, burials, and any other payments you or a family member was responsible for paying.

Losses by the Family

It can sometimes be difficult to disentangle the damages the deceased person experienced and those that the surviving family experienced. There are various damages unique to you, your family, or other distributees of the deceased person.

A distributee of the deceased individual can claim the loss of service, income, or support after their loved one passes away. Many distributees, like spouses and children, rely on a household breadwinner for support. When this breadwinner passes away because of someone else’s negligence, the family may sue for the support they have lost. The value of this support may depend on the income of the deceased individual and what kind of services they provided to their loved ones.

In addition, a spouse can sue for the loss of companionship in a wrongful death case. This is sometimes referred to as a loss of consortium and encompasses the lost relationship between the deceased person and their spouse. Similarly, children can claim the loss of parental guidance.

Our Queens wrongful death attorneys can help you calculate these damages. Some of them might not be connected to actual monetary costs, but they may help increase the overall value of your case.

Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York

Punitive damages are a separate category of damages aimed at punishing defendants for their behavior. According to EPT Law § 5-4.3(b), punitive damages may be awarded if they would have been recoverable by the deceased individual if they survived. These damages are awarded to plaintiffs to deter future wrongdoing, not necessarily to compensate for any specific losses. While punitive damages are somewhat rare in New York, they are not impossible, and they tend to be awarded more frequently in wrongful death cases than other lawsuits.

Punitive damages must be specifically pleaded for in your initial complaint. Otherwise, they will not be considered by the court. These damages will only be awarded if we can prove that the defendant acted with gross negligence, which is far more severe than ordinary negligence.

Gross negligence is often demonstrated through a defendant’s malicious or willful and wanton disregard for others. For example, a case where a defendant intentionally caused the accident that killed someone would likely involve punitive damages. What is unique about New York’s approach to punitive damages is that there are no statutory limits. As such, punitive damages tend to be quite significant when awarded.

If punitive damages are on the table in your wrongful death case, the value of your case might be much higher. Our New York personal injury lawyers can help you prove gross negligence and hopefully get punitive damages. Punitive damages can outweigh compensatory damages where a defendant’s behavior was particularly outrageous, heinous, or egregious.

Damages Unavailable in New York Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can add up to a significant sum of money. However, certain damages are off-limits. While the deceased person’s pain and suffering related to the wrongful death can be claimed, the surviving family’s suffering is not.

While grief can feel overwhelmingly painful, it does not constitute claimable damages in a New York wrongful death case. This distinction is important because various intangible or non-economic damages are at play in wrongful death cases. Some of these damages, like loss of companionship or parental guidance, are closely related to grief. However, grief is too broad and subjective to compensate in a lawsuit.

Our Brooklyn personal injury lawyers are familiar with the damages available and can help you separate your damages from your grief, pain, and suffering. Even without this, your wrongful death case may still be worth a considerable sum.

Who Determines the Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

Under EPT Law § 5-4.3(a), a judge or jury determines the final amount of damages awarded in a wrongful case. Winning your case means the defendant is held liable, but it does not mean that all your damages are automatically awarded. Our New York wrongful death lawyers can help you effectively argue for the maximum compensation possible.

In wrongful death cases tried in front of a jury, the jury will decide on an award of damages. The jury must weigh the evidence and arguments presented to them to decide how much money the case is worth and how much should be paid to the plaintiff.

If your case is not tried before a jury, it will be a bench trial tried in front of only a judge. The judge will take over the role of fact finder from the jury and make the final decision regarding damages. In either scenario, damages awarded are not guaranteed, and you might be awarded fewer damages than you initially wanted.

This process makes determining the overall value of your wrongful death lawsuit difficult because the final outcome is somewhat unpredictable. Our Bronx personal injury attorneys can use strong evidence and effective arguments to persuade the court to award you the maximum damages award possible.

Maximizing Compensation for a Wrongful Death Case in New York

As we now know, wrongful death lawsuits can potentially be worth a lot of money. The damages are often very severe, and there are numerous losses to take into consideration when calculating damages. One of the best ways to maximize your compensation is to hire an attorney who can accurately calculate all your damages without overlooking anything.

Because a judge or jury determines the final award amount, it is important that we use the strongest evidence we can to support your claims for damages. The stronger the evidence, the harder it will be for the judge or jury to justify a smaller damages award. Our Staten Island personal attorneys can take strong evidence and combine it with effective arguments and legal strategies to help you get the most compensation possible in your lawsuit.

Should I Settle if My New York Wrongful Death Case is Worth a Lot of Money?

Your wrongful death case does not necessarily have to end in a climactic courtroom battle. Instead, you can avoid the pain and trauma of a trial by accepting a settlement offer. Settlements are agreements between plaintiffs and defendants where defendants agree to pay for the damages while the plaintiff drops the case and gives up their right to file it again.

Since wrongful death cases tend to be worth a lot of money, settlement amounts also tend to be quite significant. A settlement might be a good idea if all your damages and the damages of your deceased loved one are covered. Our New York wrongful death lawyers have the negotiation skills to get you a good settlement.

Unfortunately, settlements often do not cover all your damages. This is the trade-off for a faster award. It is up to you whether you should accept a settlement. In a wrongful death case, the settlement should reflect the gravity of the situation. A settlement can help you avoid reliving the pain of losing your loved one, but it should also represent a just and fair outcome.

Call Our New York Wrongful Death Lawyers for Help Now

If you lost a loved one because of the terrible behavior of someone else, our Manhattan personal injury lawyers can help you get justice and fair compensation. Call our compassionate team at The Carrion Law Firm for a free case review at (718) 841-0083.