When a beloved family member is killed by another person’s act of negligence or malice, your life is never the same afterward. Although holding the responsible party accountable for their actions will never fill the void or bring your loved one back, it can ease the financial burden associated with the loss.

Filing a wrongful death claim

New York only allows the “personal representative” of the dead person’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. Unlike many other states, which empower close family members to initiate an action, a family member may do so in New York only if they represent the estate. The claim may, however, seek damages for losses experienced by the person’s survivors, beneficiaries, and even the estate itself. The personal representative will hold any damage awards in trust for relatives and others who suffered any losses due to the death.

What is a wrongful death under New York law?

Part 4 of the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Code requires five elements to be present to sustain a wrongful death claim.

  1. A death has occurred
  2. That death was caused by the wrongful actions of another party
  3. The incident created a cause of action that could have been pursued by the deceased in court if they had not been killed
  4. The deceased was survived by at least one person who suffered a loss as the result of the death
  5. There are recoverable damages

Examples of recoverable damages include:

  • Loss of income that the deceased family member contributed to the household
  • Any medical bills incurred
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost inheritance suffered by surviving children

There is also typically a 9% interest rate on the awarded damages, calculated from the date of death.

New York law differs from some other states in that surviving family members may not sue for their own mental anguish, pain and suffering, or loss of companionship.

Time limits for filing a wrongful death claim in New York

A personal representative must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the death in question. If the representative is legally incapable of filing the claim (e.g., they are a child or mentally incapacitated), then their guardian is expected to do so on their behalf. The statute of limitations does not “freeze” due to representative incapacity.

Wrongful death cases are highly emotional and legally complicated matters. If someone you love is killed due to the actions of someone else and you represent their estate, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who can help you hold the wrongdoer responsible and obtain a damages award that minimizes the financial impact of your loss. Jayson Lutzky, P.C. is a Bronx law firm that has helped clients recover millions of dollars for its clients who were victims or family members of victims in accident and personal injury cases. Call 718-514-6619 to schedule a free in-person consultation with Mr. Lutzky. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more about us.