May 25, 2023

Suspecting Wrongful Death Vs. Proving It

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

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The death of a close family member or loved one is tragic. When you want to hold the liable party accountable, particularly if you find your loved one’s death suspicious, you may be ready to take legal action against them.

You may have the opportunity to recover compensation and justice by pursuing a wrongful death claim. However, knowing when to move forward with a case and the evidence you will need to prove wrongful death can be more complicated than you might have thought.

How does NY Define Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death in the state of New York is defined as a “death that is caused by a wrongful act – usually involving neglect or some other fault that a person, if they had lived, could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit over.”

In this way, wrongful death claims are most frequently tied to negligence. However, you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim in instances of intentional acts such as murder, through medical malpractice, and in any other instance where someone else is responsible for causing your loved one’s death.

What is Negligence?

When filing a wrongful death claim in New York, your wrongful death attorney may need to show that the elements of negligence have been met. These will include:

  • An individual passing away
  • The individual’s death was caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another
  • The defendant could have been sued in a personal injury lawsuit if the decedent had not succumbed to their injuries
  • The decedent’s surviving family members have suffered damages because of the decedent’s death

What Should You Do if You Suspect Wrongful Death?

If you suspect your loved one passed away wrongfully, you may have the option of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. However, you may be unsure of where to start.

Here are some of the steps you can take to get started on your wrongful death claim:

  • Determine who the decedent’s personal representative is, as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the only party who has the authority to file a wrongful death or survivorship action
  • Obtain copies of the decedent’s death certificate, police reports, autopsy, and other reports that could help to prove how the decedent’s death occurred
  • Obtain other evidence that could be used to support your case, such as photos and videos of the accident, proof of financial losses, medical records, expert statements, witness testimony, and any other physical evidence
  • Contact a wrongful death attorney in New York who can handle all the legal details of your case, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and advocate for total restitution at trial

What Can You Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?

Wrongful death damages compensate the decedent’s surviving family members for their damages and suffering. Some examples of damages that could be awarded in New York wrongful death claims include:

  • The surviving family member’s loss of the decedent’s financial support
  • The decedent’s burial and funeral expenses
  • The decedent’s physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress before their death
  • The decedent’s health and medical expenses as related to the injury or illness that caused their death
  • The surviving family member’s loss of support and services
  • The surviving family member’s loss of guidance, nurturing, comfort, advice, companionship, parental care, and love
  • The surviving family member’s loss of inheritance

Things to Avoid in a Wrongful Death Case

There are several mistakes you should take steps to avoid in pursuing a New York wrongful death claim, including:

  • Arguing between family members
  • Posting online or speaking publicly about your loved one’s death
  • Speaking with the insurance company
  • Accepting an insultingly low settlement offer
  • Limiting possibilities for liability
  • Waiting to act on your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, which is two years in the state of New York
  • Moving forward with your wrongful death claim without a legal advocate on your side

Working with an attorney could make all the difference in the outcome of your wrongful death claim. Your lawyer will be responsible for:

  • Identifying your legal options
  • Explaining your rights as the representative of the decedent’s estate
  • Investigating how your loved one passed away
  • Identifying all liable parties
  • Calculating the value of your damages
  • Gathering compelling evidence to prove fault in your case
  • Identifying potential witnesses and interviewing them
  • Working with experts to provide insight into your case
  • Navigating complex legal requirements and court procedures

Call HKD for Help With Your Wrongful Death Case

Now that you better understand what it takes to prove fault and negligence in a wrongful death claim, it’s time to get started on your case. A compassionate New York wrongful death lawyer at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. could help you get the most out of your case and obtain the evidence needed to prove liability.

Our extensive experience handling wrongful death claims across the state could make all the difference in your case. Let us help you through these difficult times. Fill out our quick contact form or call us at (212) 490-5700 to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today.