Bronx Wrongful Death Attorneys
Unexpectedly losing a loved one is a tragic experience that may bring with it an overwhelming amount of pain and grief. In addition to the emotional distress that accompanies such a loss, it can also result in an increased financial burden for surviving family members in many cases. While no amount of money will bring back your deceased loved one, you may still hold accountable those individuals responsible for the death.
If your loved one died as a result of negligence or intentional harm, you may seek compensation to help reduce your financial burden. According to New York law, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of your loved one’s death. Call the Bronx wrongful death lawyers at The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond, located in the Bronx, at (718) 588-2000, or contact Mr. Diamond online, to discuss the details of your case today.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when a victim dies because of another’s wrongful or negligent act. Under New York law, to file a wrongful death claim, the law would have entitled the victim to file a personal injury claim and collect damages had the victim survived. New York, unlike many other states, does not permit surviving family members to file wrongful death claims unless they are acting as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Only a personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim.
What are some examples of wrongful death cases in the Bronx?
Negligent conduct, rather than intentional conduct, often underlies wrongful death litigation.
The following events commonly give rise to wrongful death cases in the Bronx:
- Truck accidents
- Car crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Criminal conduct
- Workplace hazards
- Slip and falls
Most wrongful death litigation arises from motor vehicle accidents, but any unlawful act that caused death may lead to a wrongful death claim. Even simple accidents, such as a rear-end collision resulting in a traumatic brain injury, might form the basis for litigation.
What qualifies as a wrongful death under New York Law?
Section 5-4.1 of New York’s Estate Laws defines an action for wrongful death as a case brought by a decedent’s personal representative to recover money damages if an unlawful act caused the decedent’s death. It is important to remember that pursuing a wrongful death claim is only allowed if the decedent could have brought an action for personal injuries arising from the same unlawful conduct, had not death occurred. For example, the personal representative for a young man killed on the Grand Concourse could bring a wrongful death action against the negligent driver for damages because the young man, had he survived, could have sued the driver for personal injuries.
Who Bears Responsibility?
A wide range of wrongful or negligent acts can lead to a wrongful death. Some common examples include:
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice, including pharmaceutical errors, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and surgical errors
- Slips and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents involving an intoxicated driver
- Motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted or fatigued driver
What Damages Can the Estate Recover After a Wrongful Death?
In New York, the amount of total damages depends on what the court or jury determines is fair and just. New York law prohibits the recovery of non-economic damages for family members in wrongful death claims, such as loss of consortium, but does allow recovery for pecuniary losses. These losses include the financial support and services that the deceased would have provided surviving family members, the nurturing, training, guidance, and education that a child would have received had the victim survived, and the domestic duties that the decedent performed at home.
Common damages recovered in New York wrongful death claims include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses related to the victim’s injury that led to death, including ambulance services, hospitalization, radiology, and nursing services
- Lost wages and benefits until the time of death
- Lost inheritances
- Value of support and services provided by the deceased
In cases where intentional harm or gross negligence caused the wrongful death, the court may award punitive damages to the estate; however, courts rarely award punitive damages in wrongful death cases.
Is wrongful death the same as murder?
Wrongful death claims refer to civil actions for money damages only, while murder refers to criminal charges levied by prosecutors. Murder may form the basis for a Bronx wrongful death case even if a defendant was acquitted of the charge, or prosecutors never brought criminal charges in the first place. For example, it takes substantial evidence to convict a defendant for the murder of a loved one, but less to prove in civil court that he or she unlawfully killed that loved one. Call a qualified Bronx wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond for a confidential consultation, should you suspect foul play.
Can any family member file a case for wrongful death in the Bronx?
Only the decedent’s personal representative or administrator may file wrongful death litigation in the Bronx. N.Y. EPT § 1-2.13 defines personal representatives as those who receive letters of administration for the decedent’s estate. This means either the decedent’s executor as named in a will or administrator as appointed by the probate court. If a personal representative refuses to file wrongful death litigation, the estate beneficiaries may request the court appoint a special administrator to file a case.
New York law gives the following parties have priority of administration:
- Other blood family members
However, any beneficiary listed in the will or otherwise entitled to distribution under New York law could recover compensation from a wrongful death settlement.
What type of compensation is available in Bronx wrongful death cases?
One of the most complex aspects of wrongful death litigation involves calculating damages. The case value often depends on family relationships, the cause of death, the decedent’s level of suffering, the decedent’s age, and whether or not the decedent provided for his or her family.
The decedent’s estate may recover all direct losses resulting from the conduct that lead to the death, including funeral expenses, medical bills, and property damage.
Beneficiaries may also recover:
- Future lost wages, income, and fringe benefits – If the decedent provided income and insurance for his or her household, dependent parties might recover the value of these losses calculated from the date of death to retirement age. Spouses may also receive the value of lost pension benefits.
- Loss of consortium – Spouses can recover for the loss of a husband or wife’s love, comfort, and companionship. While immeasurable, spouses may testify to their losses and allow a judge or jury to determine reasonable compensation.
- Loss of parental support – Minors who lost a parent may also recover for lost love and guidance.
- Decedent’s pain & suffering – The estate may recover for any emotional and physical pain and suffering the decedent experienced before he or she passed, including fear of death. The availability of these damages depends on the specific facts of each case.
- Punitive damages – If criminal or reckless conduct caused the decedent’s death, the court may award punitive damages. These damages punish the offender rather than compensate families for direct losses
Determining the value of lost future income requires substantial speculation. An experienced wrongful death settlement lawyer might work with economic and occupational experts to ensure proper and complete compensation.
How much does a Bronx wrongful death lawyer cost?
Experienced Bronx personal injury attorneys know that families can seldom afford an attorney after the tragic loss of a loved one. For this reason, wrongful death lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis whereby an attorney takes a certain percentage of the overall settlement or recovery, typically 33 percent, as the fee.
Law firms may also front all initial litigation, discovery, and expert witnesses costs. Most family members may recover from a loved one’s wrongful death without any upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. Take advantage of your “no fee unless successful” Bronx wrongful death consultation with the Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond today.
Liable Parties May Fight Your Claim
Regardless of the specific circumstances, defendants in wrongful death cases frequently attempt to avoid paying compensation. While New York law does provide a decedent’s estate with the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members, New York follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which may alter the amount of damages awarded by a court.
In pure comparative negligence jurisdictions, courts assign a percentage of blame to each party. If the court finds that the decedent contributed to the injury that led to the death, the court will reduce the damages award by that percentage. For example, if your loved one died in an accident caused by another driver who ran a red light, but your loved one was distracted, the court may determine that your loved one was 25 percent responsible for the accident. In this scenario, assuming the court determined that damages amounted to $100,000, the court would reduce this amount to $75,000.
Defense attorneys in wrongful death claims attempt to avoid responsibility and shift the blame to the deceased in the following ways:
- In motor vehicle accidents, the defense may claim that the deceased was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication. The defense may also claim that the victim was driving recklessly or violating other traffic laws.
- In the case of on-the-job accidents, the victim’s employer may claim that the victim improperly performed the job or did not follow protocol.
- When accidents happen at other residences or businesses, property owners may claim that the victim trespassed.
- When defective products lead to a wrongful death, the manufacturer or retailer may suggest that the victim used the product improperly, or modified the product after purchasing it, causing the deadly defect.
Oftentimes, these attacks on your loved one’s behavior can make coping with your loss even more difficult. An experienced wrongful death attorney is familiar with these tactics, and will fight to protect the rights of you and your family. Let your attorney worry about legal strategy while you concentrate on recovering from your loss.
What’s the statute of limitations for wrongful death in New York?
A two-year statute of limitations generally applies to wrongful death cases in the Bronx (N.Y. EPT § 5-4.1(2)). Personal representatives must file a lawsuit for wrongful death within two years of the date of death. If a personal representative refuses to bring a case within this timeframe, beneficiaries may petition the probate court to appoint an administrator to file a wrongful death action before the statute of limitations expires. Speak with a qualified wrongful death lawyer immediately if an executor delays filing litigation.
When criminal charges are pending related to the death, personal representatives have one year from the date the criminal case ends to bring a wrongful death claim. A subsequent criminal inquiry into a loved one’s death might revive the claim against the criminal defendant even if the two-year statute of limitations already expired. Criminal cases terminate, and the statute of limitations begins to run, upon sentencing or dismissal of all charges related to the wrongful death claim.
If Someone You Loved Died in a Preventable Accident, Call Ivan M. Diamond
Most attorneys offer free consultations to discuss the merits of your case. These conversations give you an opportunity to share the details surrounding the death of your loved one, so that your lawyer can determine whether the decedent’s estate is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Most wrongful death cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay anything upfront; your lawyer will recover attorney’s fees out of any settlement or verdict secured for the estate.
If your loved one died due to negligence or intentional harm, an experienced wrongful death attorney will help you navigate the legal system, handle the details of your case, and work to ensure that those responsible are held accountable. Call the Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond, located in the Bronx, at (718) 588-2000, or contact Mr. Diamond online, to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced wrongful death attorney today.
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The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond888 Grand Concourse #1L Bronx, NY 10451 Phone: (718) 588-2000 Ivan M. Diamond is available for home and hospital visits, as well as weekend and evening appointments.
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