Legal Guidance in Times of Loss in New York
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through. The pain is compounded when another person’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional actions cause their death. In such cases, it may be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain compensation for damages.
If you have lost a dear one in a wrongful death case, you must be aware of every legal step you must take. Here is a complete guide on wrongful death cases in New York. This blog unwraps the fundamentals of wrongful death cases, providing you with detailed insight into why and how to select a lawyer in wrongful death cases.
Table of Contents
- What is Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a situation where the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or entity cause a person’s death. These deaths can occur in various circumstances, including car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, workplace accidents, and criminal acts. The critical element in a wrongful death claim is that the death could have been prevented if the responsible party had acted reasonably and responsibly.
When someone dies due to wrongful death, the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering. It’s important to note that not all family members are entitled to compensation, and each state has its own laws regarding who can file a wrongful death claim and what damages are available.
2. Why Hire a Lawyer in The Case of Wrongful Death?
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful act, hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney to protect your legal rights and financial interests is essential. Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a lawyer:
- Legal expertise: An experienced wrongful death lawyer has in-depth knowledge of the law and can help you navigate the complex legal process of filing a wrongful death claim.
- Investigation and evidence gathering: Your attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and gather evidence to prove liability.
- Working with experts: Your lawyer can work with medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and other professionals to strengthen your case.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: Your attorney can negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.
- Trial preparation: If your case goes to trial, your attorney can prepare your case and represent you in court.
3. Common Causes of Wrongful Death in New York
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, New York State documented 4,088 violent offenses, encompassing homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, in 2020. Here is a closer look at some of the common causes of wrongful death in New York:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: New York City is known for its heavy traffic, and with so many cars, buses, trucks, and taxis on the road, motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of wrongful death. Speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and distracted driving are all factors that can lead to fatal crashes. NYC Open Data reports that in 2020, there were 214 traffic fatalities in New York City, and 28% of those fatalities were pedestrian deaths.
- Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice is another common cause of wrongful death in New York. Patients can suffer serious injuries or even die when doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals make mistakes. The National Practitioner Data Bank reveals that in 2019, New York State ranked second in the United States for the total number of medical malpractice payments, which amounted to over $617 million. Examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and birth injuries.
- Truck Accidents: Trucks play a critical role in New York’s economy, transporting goods in and out of the city. However, when truck drivers are fatigued, distracted, or driving under the influence, they can cause deadly accidents. In many cases, trucking companies may be liable for the wrongful death of someone killed in a truck accident.
- Bicycle Accidents: Biking is a popular way to get around New York but it can also be dangerous. Bicyclists are vulnerable to severe injuries in accidents involving cars, trucks, or other vehicles.
- Construction Accidents: With so much construction happening in New York, construction accidents commonly cause wrongful death. Falls, electrocutions, and being struck by objects are some of the most common types of accidents on construction sites. OSHA states that in 2020, there were 61 fatal work injuries in New York State.
- Defective Products: Defective products, such as faulty medical devices, defective car parts, or dangerous toys, can cause serious injuries or death.
- Criminal Acts: Unfortunately, violent crimes such as assault, homicide, or domestic violence can result in wrongful death. In these cases, the responsible party may face both criminal charges and a wrongful death lawsuit.
4. Types of Wrongful Death Cases
In New York, there are three main types of wrongful death cases, each with its own distinct characteristics:
Intentional Wrongful Death:
This type of wrongful death occurs when someone intentionally causes the end of another person. Examples of intentional wrongful death include murder, manslaughter, or death resulting from an assault.
Negligence Wrongful Death:
Negligence wrongful death happens when someone’s careless or reckless behavior causes another person’s death. This can include a wide range of scenarios, such as car accidents caused by distracted driving, slip and fall accidents resulting from poor maintenance of a property, or a fatal workplace accident caused by inadequate safety measures.
Malpractice Wrongful Death
Malpractice wrongful death occurs when a medical professional’s negligence leads to a patient’s death. This can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, or failure to provide adequate medical care. Medical malpractice is a complex area of law, and proving negligence in these cases often requires expert testimony and extensive medical records review.
The responsible parties in a wrongful death case will depend on the circumstances of the death. It may be possible to sue individuals, businesses, or government entities contributing to the death. Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits, which means they are not pursued by the state or federal government. Instead, they are filed by the family members of the deceased person.
6. Wrongful Death Claims are Civil Lawsuits
Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits seeking compensation for the damages caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions that result in a person’s death. These cases differ from criminal cases as they aim to compensate the victim’s family rather than punish the defendant. The burden of proof in wrongful death cases is less stringent than in criminal cases, and the compensation is typically in the form of monetary damages. Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer to handle these cases and navigate the legal process is essential to maximize compensation and protect the family’s financial future.
7. How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take to Settle?
The timeline for a wrongful death lawsuit settlement can vary depending on the case’s complexity and the defendant’s willingness to settle. Some cases may be resolved in a few months, while others may take years to reach a verdict or settlement.
8. New York Wrongful Death Laws
In New York, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of a third party. Under New York law, only specific individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings. Without any of these relatives, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. However, if the deceased person did not leave behind any surviving family members or named executors, no one can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in New York is generally two years from the date of the victim’s death. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is generally two and a half years from the date of the victim’s death. Additionally, if the wrongful death was caused by exposure to toxic substances, the statute of limitations may be extended up to three years from the date of the victim’s death.
It is important to note that filing a wrongful death lawsuit in New York can be a complex and challenging process. Therefore, it is essential to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the legal process and maximize your compensation.
9. Why You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult experience, and dealing with the legal aftermath can add additional stress and confusion. That’s where a wrongful death lawyer comes in – they can provide the support and guidance you need during this challenging time.
Here are some benefits of hiring a wrongful death lawyer:
- Navigate the legal process: Wrongful death cases involve complex legal procedures and regulations that can be challenging for non-lawyers to navigate. A skilled wrongful death attorney can guide you through the legal process, ensuring you understand your rights and options.
- Gather evidence: Proving liability in a wrongful death case often requires extensive evidence-gathering. To build a strong case, a wrongful death lawyer can help collect the necessary evidence, such as medical records, witness statements, and expert opinions.
- Work with experts: In some cases, expert testimony is necessary to establish liability. A wrongful death lawyer can work with medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and other specialists to provide testimony and support your case.
- Negotiate with insurance companies: Insurance companies are known for offering lowball settlements to save money. A wrongful death attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses.
- Prepare for trial: Sometimes, a trial may be necessary to obtain your deserved compensation. A wrongful death attorney can prepare for trial by conducting mock trials, preparing witnesses, and building a solid case to present in court.
- Maximize compensation: Losing a loved one can result in significant economic and non-economic losses, such as medical bills, lost income, and emotional distress. A wrongful death attorney can help you recover compensation for these losses and protect your family’s financial future.
- Higher success rate of accidental/wrongful death cases in New York: Accidental/wrongful death cases can be complex and challenging. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in New York has a better understanding of the legal system and can help increase the chances of success in the case.
10. How to Choose the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer?
When you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, choosing the right wrongful death lawyer can be a daunting task. However, taking the time to research and carefully evaluate potential attorneys can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a wrongful death lawyer:
- Look for experience: Wrongful death cases can be complex and require a deep understanding of the law. Look for a lawyer with extensive experience handling wrongful death cases. Ask about their track record of success and any settlements or verdicts they have obtained for clients.
- Check credentials and track record: Verify that the lawyer you are considering is licensed to practice law in New York and good standing with the state bar association. Additionally, research their reputation in the legal community and online reviews from previous clients.
- Consider communication and responsiveness: A wrongful death case can take time to resolve, so it’s essential to work with a lawyer who communicates regularly and is responsive to your questions and concerns. During your initial consultation, pay attention to how the lawyer communicates with you and whether they seem genuinely interested in your case.
- Evaluate fee structure: Most wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they win your case. However, the percentage they take as their fee can vary. Look for a lawyer who offers a fee structure that is fair and transparent, with no hidden costs or fees.
- Trust your instincts: When choosing a wrongful death lawyer, trust your instincts. You want to work with someone you feel comfortable with and believe will fight for your best interests.
11. How much does a wrongful death Lawyer/Attorney Cost?
Regarding the cost of hiring a wrongful death lawyer, it’s important to note that they typically work on a contingency fee basis. That means that they only receive a payment if you win your case, and the fee is usually a percentage of the settlement or verdict obtained.
The exact percentage can vary depending on the lawyer and the case specifics, but it’s typically around 33% of the total amount recovered. For example, if the settlement or verdict is $1 million, the lawyer’s fee would be approximately $330,000.
It’s also important to consider that pursuing a wrongful death case may involve additional costs beyond the lawyer’s fee. For example, there may be court fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses that need to be paid. These costs are typically deducted from the settlement or verdict amount in addition to the lawyer’s fee.
Before hiring a wrongful death lawyer, it’s essential to discuss their fee structure and any additional costs that may be associated with the case. A reputable lawyer should be transparent about their fees and be willing to answer any questions you have about the cost of pursuing a wrongful death claim.
12. The Bottom Line
Losing a loved one is never easy, but a wrongful death lawyer can help you hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain compensation for your damages. While nothing can bring your loved one back, pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide a sense of justice and closure for the family members left behind.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful actions, hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the legal process is crucial. A skilled attorney can help investigate the circumstances of the death, gather evidence, work with experts, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.
At Rimland Law, our team of skilled and compassionate wrongful death lawyers is dedicated to helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve while holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you and your family during this difficult time.
13. Contact a Rimland Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you’ve suffered the devastating loss of a loved one in New York City due to someone else’s negligence, we invite you to consider hiring a compassionate and experienced Rimland Wrongful Death Attorney who can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Our legal team is passionate, determinant, strong and ready to work on your case. Reach out today to talk to a New York City wrongful death attorney and receive your initial consultation for free.