If your loved one was killed in an accident caused by someone else’s reckless or negligent action and you are the personal representative of their estate, you have the right to hold that party legally responsible.
No legal action can bring your loved one back, but a wrongful death lawsuit can provide justice and closure to the family and friends of the deceased. If awarded compensation, you will be able to pay your loved one’s medical bills, their funeral, burial, or cremation expenses, and make up for services that the deceased provided, such as childcare or health insurance.
If your loved one was killed in an accident, trust a Commack wrongful death lawyer at Carner & DeVita to handle your case. We have over 60 years of experience fighting on behalf of families who have lost a loved one. Just because a person is deceased doesn’t mean they don’t deserve justice; let Carner & DeVita help your family. Call (631) 543-7070 today.
Important Things to Know About Your Wrongful Death Case
For your wrongful death case to proceed smoothly, you’ll need to follow several important state laws. One of the most important is New York’s statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is essentially a deadline to file your lawsuit. If you don’t file by the specified date, the judge will likely dismiss your case.
In New York, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit. This deadline is critical, so meet with a Commack wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
New York differs from most states in regards to who may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Unlike other states where family members are allowed to bring the lawsuit, New York places the responsibility on the “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative could be an individual, a bank or trust company, or both.
A family member can file a lawsuit only if they are the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
The personal representative (executor or administrator) of the deceased person’s estate is responsible for:
- Gathering the individual’s assets
- Settling their business affairs
- Paying their debts
- Filing necessary tax returns
- Distributing assets as directed by the deceased
If the individual dies “testate” (with a will), an executor will be appointed as the personal representative. If the individual died “intestate” (without a will), an administrator will be appointed as the personal representative.
As you can probably gather, these details can become extremely confusing. If your loved one was killed in an accident for which they were not at fault, it’s in your best interest to speak with a Commack wrongful death lawyer to determine or find out who the deceased named as their personal representative. Call Carner & DeVita at (631) 380-4417 for more information.
What qualifies as wrongful death?
It’s important to understand how the state of New York defines wrongful death. Under the law, not every death is considered wrongful and eligible for compensation.
Under New York law, the deceased person’s personal representative must meet four essential elements to bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The individual died as a result of the defendant’s (negligent or at-fault party’s) actions
- Had the individual not died, they would have been able to sue for damages
- The individual is survived by one or more persons who suffered a loss as a result of the death
- There are specific damages that the deceased person’s estate can recover
If you have questions about the efficacy of your potential wrongful death lawsuit, contact Carner & DeVita. We’ll evaluate the facts of your case and help to determine if a lawsuit is valid and appropriate in the situation. Call (631) 543-7070 today.
Proving Wrongful Death
Like any other area of law, plaintiffs in a wrongful death case must prove that the defendant’s actions caused the individual’s death and led to specific damages.
In New York, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must prove:
Duty of Care
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care (generally, the obligation to keep others safe). For example, a driver has a “duty of care” to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner.
Breach of Duty
Once your Commack wrongful death attorney establishes that a duty of care existed, they’ll need to show that the defendant breached (violated) that duty of care. For example, a person would breach duty of care by texting and driving or while driving under the influence.
Once the first two elements have been established, you and your attorney must prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused your loved one’s death.
For example, Driver A is going the wrong way on a street. They collide head-on with another vehicle, killing Driver B. Driver A would have directly caused Driver B’s death. However, if Driver B had a heart attack immediately before the collision, it could be argued that Driver A is not to blame for the death, even though they were breaking the law.
Finally, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must prove that the family suffered damages as a result of the death. These include economic damages such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of economic support.
They may also include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium (loss of spousal support), and loss of parental guidance.
If you can prove these four elements, you can secure financial recovery and a sense of closure for your family. Contact Carner & DeVita today to learn more.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death accidents occur every day for many reasons, but these are among the most common:
Suffolk County saw 107 fatal vehicle crashes in 2019 alone. In 2018, 134 people were killed in car accidents, and in 2017, 122 people were killed in collisions. Not all of these were caused by someone else’s negligent actions, but the accidents that were caused by recklessness resulted in dozens of individuals’ untimely and unfortunate deaths.
Physicians take an oath to treat their patients to the best of their ability and to cause them no harm. Unfortunately, many physicians break this oath, and, through negligence or preventable mistakes, end up causing a wrongful death. The most common causes of wrongful death within medical malpractice are misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and surgical errors.
Although most consumer products have been tested and put together correctly to be generally safe, some are defective due to manufacturing errors or faulty parts. Even if a product is not inherently dangerous, a defect in its design or manufacturing can cause serious injury or death.
If a person dies due to a defective product, the product manufacturer may be held liable. Some of the most commonly defective products include food items, medical devices, children’s toys, and car parts.
Although semi-truck accidents are technically automobile accidents, the associated damage and risk allow for their separate categorization. Semi-trucks are so much larger than passenger vehicles (they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds) that collisions are often deadly.
If a person is killed in a truck accident for which the trucker was at fault, the individual’s personal representative can sue the trucking company or the insurance carrier for damages.
What damages may be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of the deceased person’s family can help alleviate financial and emotional concerns. No amount of compensation can fully assuage the pain felt by the victim’s family and friends, but compensation can help them pay expenses related to the death and help spouses and children get back on their feet.
Economic damages refer to the quantifiable, verifiable monetary losses associated with the individual’s death. Common types of economic damages in wrongful death cases include:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Loss of expected earnings
- Loss of benefits (pension plans, medical coverage)
- Loss of inheritance
- The value of goods and services that the deceased would have provided
To receive the maximum amount of compensation, you and your family need the assistance of a knowledgeable, experienced attorney. The Commack wrongful death lawyers at Carner & DeVita have over 50 years of experience helping victims’ families recover money for damages. Call us today at (631) 543-7070 to learn how we’ll get you the compensation you need.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are intangible and often more difficult to calculate. Common types of non-economic damages include:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of care, protection, and nurturing from the deceased person
- Loss of love and companionship from the deceased
- Loss of consortium (legally, consortium is the right of fellowship between two married people)
Punitive damages are unique in their intention to not only provide compensation for damages but to punish the defendant (negligent or at-fault party) for their actions. These damages are rare and are not available in the vast majority of New York wrongful death cases.
However, if a defendant’s actions were particularly egregious or intentional, the plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages.
If you believe you may be entitled to punitive damages, it’s best to speak with a Commack wrongful death lawyer. An attorney at Carner & DeVita will evaluate the facts of your case and help you decide which types of damages you may be eligible to receive.
Contact a Commack Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
As Long Island personal injury lawyers with more than 50 years of experience, the attorneys at Carner & DeVita have helped hundreds of families move past the overwhelming grief and anger that comes with having a family member killed in an accident that was someone else’s fault.
We help families of deceased individuals obtain justice on behalf of their loved one, and we help them gain closure knowing their loved one’s affairs are being handled legally and responsibly. We can’t take away the pain of losing a loved one, but we can help you move forward.
Call us today at (631) 543-7070. We look forward to helping you and your family during this difficult time.