“Wrongful Death” is any case when an accident or malpractice victim died as a result of the defendant’s negligence. In addition to being a human tragedy, the death of a negligence victim increases the complexity of a lawsuit. First, the statute of limitations may be shortened. Second, a representative has to be appointed in Surrogate’s Court to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Third, because the decedent cannot speak for herself, there can be evidentiary issues at trial. Finally, when the lawsuit is over a further proceeding may be necessary in Surrogate’s Court to determine the distribution of the proceeds.
The law of the State of New York does not allow recovery for the grief of a decedent’s surviving family. Some states, such as Florida, do allow for this type of damages. Over the years, however, the insurance companies have used their lobbying muscle to prevent the New York State legislature from changing the law to allow damages for grief and emotional harm to a decedent’s survivors.
Unfortunately all people are not equal in death under the law. When a person dies as the result of negligence, her estate can recover for the pain and suffering that she endured before her death and for the economic harm suffered by her dependents. This means that the death of a wealthy person with a large stream of income can result in a much larger recovery than the death of a person of more modest means.
Our firm has had many years of experience representing the estates (and the families) of the victims of fatal negligence. Please call us for a free consultation if one of your loved ones or friends has had the tragic misfortune to pass away as the result of an accident or medical malpractice.