Losing a loved one, particularly due to negligence, can be an overwhelming and confusing time. In New York, you have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party for your loved one’s passing.
But the process of filing a wrongful death claim can be complex. Our team of experienced Syracuse wrongful death attorneys can guide you through each step. We are committed to helping you secure a settlement that compensates for the untimely loss of your spouse, parent, child, or other loved one.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action taken when the misconduct, negligence, or failure of another individual causes someone’s death. For instance, if a surgical mistake, such as administering too much anesthesia, leads to the death of a family member, this can be grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Under New York law, specifically statute § 5-4.1, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is authorized to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, as long as they do so within two years of the person’s death. This type of claim is applicable in situations where the deceased would have been eligible to sue the defendant for the misconduct or neglect that caused their injury had they survived.
This process offers a path to financial compensation for surviving family members and holds responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Legal Elements of Proving Wrongful Death
Specific legal criteria must be met to successfully prove a case of wrongful death in New York State. Your attorney at Catalano Law can help you establish the following:
- Duty of care: You must show that the defendant was responsible for acting safely and responsibly under the circumstances to prevent harm to your loved one. For example, all drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws to ensure the safety of others on the road.
- Breach of duty of care: You must demonstrate the defendant’s failure in their duty through negligence or a lack of reasonable care toward the deceased. For example, if your loved one’s doctor did not follow standard medical procedures, that would breach their duty of care.
- Causation: You must link the defendant’s breach of duty directly to the death of your loved one. This is typically done using medical evidence, witness testimonies, and/or accident reconstruction assessments to show how negligence resulted in death.
- Damages: You must present concrete evidence of losses and suffering caused by the death. This includes proof of financial burdens, like lost income and medical expenses incurred, and the emotional impact on the family.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
Initiating a wrongful death claim in New York is a multi-step process. You can work with our skilled attorneys to take the following actions:
- Gather evidence. We can collect all relevant information to support your claim. This includes medical records, autopsy reports, witness statements, and any other documentation that proves negligence or fault in the death of your loved one.
- Estimate damages. Our attorneys can calculate full damages resulting from the wrongful death. This covers financial losses such as lost income, medical expenses, funeral costs, and non-economic damages like emotional distress and loss of companionship.
- File the claim. After gathering evidence, we can help you file a wrongful death claim in court. This includes preparing and submitting legal documents that outline the basis of your claim, the parties involved, and the damage award you seek.
- Engage in negotiation or litigation. Depending on the defendant’s response, we can either negotiate a settlement or proceed to trial. We first attempt to work with the responsible party to reach a fair compensation agreement in negotiations. If the case goes to trial anyway, we can present evidence and arguments in court to seek a favorable verdict for you and your family.
Potential Settlements and Verdicts in a Wrongful Death Case
If your wrongful death case goes to trial, a judge or jury will decide your compensation. They review all the evidence, like how much the deceased earned, their medical and funeral costs, and the circumstances of their death.
Based on this, the court decides on a fair amount to support your family financially, considering what the deceased would have provided if they had lived. You might also receive punitive damages, which are extra payments the defendant is required to make to punish them for especially harmful behavior, like intoxicated or reckless driving.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you are dealing with a wrongful death case, seek professional representation for the best possible results. At Catalano Law, our Syracuse wrongful death attorneys can assist you and your family through the wrongful death claims process.
We can use our 50+ years of experience to help you receive the compensation you deserve due to the loss of your loved one. Contact our team today to share your story and for compassionate, skilled representation for your wrongful death claim.