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3 things families need to know about wrongful death claims

Losing a loved one will destabilize your family life. It can affect everything from your finances to your daily routine. Even the ability to care for your children or maintain your home could decrease when a member of your family suddenly dies.

New York law offers the option to file a wrongful death claim in certain situations. Learning the basics of wrongful death claims can help you decide if your family might benefit from pursuing justice in the civil courts.

Wrongful death claims only stem from certain situations

Not every tragedy or accidental death gives rise to a wrongful death claim. Sometimes, what occurs is unfortunate but not necessarily actionable. Under New York law, plaintiffs in a wrongful death claim have to show conclusively that someone died and the death was a direct result of negligence, wrongful acts and defaults.

Failing to act when one has an obligation to do something, breaking the law or behaving in a way that is clearly unsafe could all lead to wrongful death claims.

Only certain people can file a wrongful death claim

New York wrongful death rules limit claims to a representative of the deceased person’s estate. They can request compensation on behalf of the estate to eventually distribute to specific, dependent family members.

To file a lawsuit against a drunk driver who hit your loved one or a property owner whose negligent maintenance directly resulted in your loss, there needs to be an executor or representative named to handle the estate. The executor will need to initiate the wrongful death claim within two years of the death.

New York has rules about the compensation you can request

When you lose a loved one, you can’t just demand an exorbitant amount of money from the person you believe is responsible. You have to validate your claim to financial compensation by providing evidence about how the loss affects surviving family members.

For example, you can claim lost wages and benefits, as well as medical expenses incurred before your loved one died and the funeral and burial costs your family paid. New York does also allow families to claim certain non-economic losses. You can request compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering, the loss of support and services for the family, and even the loss of parental care for children.

Looking critically at state rules in your situation can help you decide if a wrongful death claim can give your family justice.