Syracuse Wrongful Death Attorney
No untimely death comes without hardship. Family and loved ones grappling with the loss can suffer from both the personal and financial consequences of the death, especially when it was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentionally harmful conduct of another party.
In these cases, family members deserve to know about the ability of the deceased’s estate’s personal representative to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Through legal action, courts can award damages based on costs incurred, services that the deceased provided, and the pain and suffering that the defendant caused, not to mention the possibility of punitive damages.
If you plan to file, you must do so quickly before the statute of limitations runs out. To get the help that you need with your case today, call (219) 322-1166 to speak with an experienced Syracuse wrongful death lawyer at The Carrion Law Firm. We offer free first-time case evaluations to all potential clients.
Knowing When to Sue for Wrongful Death in Syracuse
The first step in suing for wrongful death is identifying one has a valid case. Essentially, there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit whenever the death was caused by a “wrongful act.” Wrongful acts (or neglect or default, as the state law puts it) can generally be understood as conduct that would give the deceased a right to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the incident.
Wrongful death lawsuits are available in cases of negligence, recklessness, and intentionally violent or harmful conduct. Situations that may frequently call for wrongful death lawsuits include fatalities resulting from car accidents, construction accidents, drownings, medical malpractice, and intentional violent crimes. For more information on what constitutes grounds for legal action, contact a dedicated Syracuse wrongful death attorney.
Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Syracuse
While some states allow for a number of different parties, including family members, to file a wrongful death lawsuit, New York is fairly strict about who can bring the legal action. Because a New York wrongful death suit compensates the deceased’s estate directly, only the personal representative (or “executor”) of the estate may bring the claim.
Family members may serve as the personal representative. Typically, the personal representative is identified within the deceased’s effective will. If the deceased did not identify a personal representative in their will, the named individual does not wish to serve as personal representative, or the deceased died without a will, a Syracuse court can nominate a person of their choosing to serve as personal representative. The personal representative does not need to be a licensed attorney, but you may find it helpful to have the help of a seasoned Syracuse wrongful death lawyer to walk you through the process of naming the personal representative and preparing the wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Syracuse
Upon a successful wrongful death claim being decided in Syracuse, the defendant will be order to pay damages directly to the deceased’s estate. From there, the compensation is distributed to the beneficiaries according to the deceased’s will and state probate code. Without context of the specific case, it is difficult to estimate what a given wrongful death claim may recover in damages. Courts typically rely on a number of factors in determining an award of damages, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Funeral, memorial, and burial expenses
- Reasonable health care expenses related to the deceased’s resulting condition
- Financial support the deceased would have contributed to the family
- The value of non-financial support and services the deceased would have provided to the family
- The value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance to surviving children
- Survivors’ lost inheritance
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased as a result of the wrongful act and resulting injuries or condition
- Interest on the damages award, calculated from the date of death
Courts may also choose to award additional punitive damages in certain cases. These types of cases will typically feature a particularly egregious level of recklessness or maliciousness on the part of the defendant.
Punitive damages have been available in select Syracuse wrongful death lawsuits such as medical malpractice cases involving fraud, drunk driving cases, products liability cases where the manufacturer knew of the defects and chose not to act, and nursing home abuse or neglect cases.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Syracuse
It is important that special attention be paid to New York’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, as courts take the deadlines created by the statute very seriously. Ordinarily, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file the formal suit in court no more than two years after the date of the death.
Special circumstances may call for a limited number of exceptions built into the statute of limitations. For example, if the death was caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations runs for two and a half years from the date of death. If there is a separate criminal prosecution action ongoing against the defendant based on the same incident, the wrongful death claim may be filed up to one year after the criminal case has concluded, no matter the outcome.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always preferable to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Syracuse sooner rather than later. Not only does early filing allow for better preservation of evidence, but the estate and beneficiaries of the deceased see the compensation that they are rightfully owed earlier. All these are additional to the primary benefit of avoiding missing the deadline on a particular case and being barred from recovering anything at all.
Our Syracuse Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You Today
Don’t wait for your time window to run out. When you reach out to the diligent Syracuse wrongful death attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083 today, we can provide you with a free initial case assessment.