Our Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know About Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death case, is a type of claim made on behalf of the beneficiaries of a person who died as a result of negligence or medical malpractice. Here are some important things you need to know if you have a potential wrongful death claim.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a type of claim that is brought on behalf of the Estate of a person who died as result of an accident or medical malpractice. Wrongful death claims are different than claims for pain and suffering. A pain and suffering claim seeks to recover damages for the conscious pain and suffering that a person experiences as a result of an accident or medical malpractice.
Although you are entitled to make a claim for pain and suffering when a person dies in an accident, such a claim is limited to the conscious pain and suffering experienced by the injured person from the moment of injury to the time of their death.
However, if the injured person dies, there is no longer conscious pain and suffering. As a result, the law permits an additional type of claim known as a wrongful death claim to be filed. Wrongful death claims do not allow recovery for the sorrow and anguish family members feel because of the death of a loved one.
Instead, this type of claim primarily only looks at the financial losses experienced by the family because of the death. For example, if a father who financially supports his spouse and children is killed in an accident, these family members are entitled to the lost income that they would have received had he not died.
How Do You Prove (and Win) a Wrongful Death Claim?
To win a wrongful death claim you must prove that the death was caused by the defendant’s conduct. Whether the death was caused by a car accident, premises liability accident or some other way, you must demonstrate that the defendant is legally responsible for the death.
You must also demonstrate that the accident or malpractice was the actual cause of the person’s death. Sometimes, this is obvious. For example, if a person is killed because they are struck by a car, there is usually little question as to the cause of death.
However, if the claim is that a doctor failed to diagnose an impending heart attack, and the patient dies, you must prove that the death was caused by a heart attack and not some other medical condition. In fact, the Court will require medical proof to establish the cause of death.
Further, a defendant is entitled to claim that the decedent was comparatively negligent for the incident that resulted in death, provided that there is evidence that the decedent’s actions contributed to his death. If the defendant does establish comparative negligence, then the amount of any award is reduced by the decedent’s percentage of fault.
What Are The Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The damages in a wrongful death claim are limited. You are not entitled to damages for the grief or sorrow you feel as a result of the wrongful death. Instead, the law in New York limits recovery primarily to financial losses that a family suffers as result of the death, including losses in support, inheritance and other related items. A claim can also be made for loss of guidance, although this is a limited claim.
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If you have any questions about a wrongful death claim, contact our experienced wrongful death attorneys by email or by calling (800) 762-9300 for a free consultation. You can also fill out one of your case intake forms and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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