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My relative died, do I have a claim for personal injury?


When a relative dies because of the actions of others, you might wonder if there’s any way to hold the responsible person accountable. When someone dies because another person acts in a negligent or intentional way, it’s called a wrongful death. The deceased person’s estate may bring a case on behalf of the deceased person. Relatives who suffer a loss because of the death can also receive limited damages for their economic loss as part of the case.

Elements of a wrongful death claim

A wrongful death case is made up of parts. These parts are called elements. In order to prove a wrongful death case, the person who brings the case must prove that a death occurred and that the defendant caused the death by their negligent or intentional conduct. Unique to New York law, the person who brings the case on behalf of the deceased person must be the personal representative of the estate. The victim’s relatives can claim some damages as part of the case.

What can I recover?

In a wrongful death case, there are several categories of damages that you may be able to recover. Your personal injury attorney can work with you to identify all of the types of damages that the personal representative may wish to include in your claim. Each case has its own set of specific facts, so it’s important to discuss the case with your NYC personal injury lawyer to see which damages are appropriate in your case.

You may claim expenses to hold a funeral and bury the deceased. If the deceased person had final medical expenses including emergency and nursing care, the person responsible should pay for those too. In addition, if the deceased person worked, you can claim compensation for lost wages and benefits that the person would have received if they had continued to work.

After calculating these damages, you may include compensation for household work that the victim provided to family. That is, if the victim provided child care or took care of home maintenance, you can claim compensation for replacement services. There’s also compensation available for the fact that the victim is no longer present to help raise and nurture children.

It’s likely that the victim suffered physically and emotionally because of their injuries. This is another type of damages that you can request for the wrongful death. New York law prohibits compensation for relatives for emotional suffering. You can claim interest on the recovery from the date of your loss.

Time limits

A statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have to bring a case. Even if you have a strong case, the statute of limitations can work to dismiss the case completely if you miss the filing deadline. A wrongful death claim has a time limit of two years.

That is, the personal representative of the estate has two years from the date of the person’s death to file the claim. Once they file the claim, it doesn’t matter if the case takes beyond the two year limit to resolve. This two year limitation is one of the shortest statutes of limitations in New York law.

How an attorney can help

A relative’s wrongful death is an emotionally devastating time. An attorney can help you focus on moving the case forward as you try to seek justice for your loved one. Your NYC personal injury attorneys can help you evaluate the merits of the case. They can skillfully prepare a summons and complaint, file it in the proper court and serve the opposing party.

An attorney can be crucial to performing legal work to piece together what caused your loved one’s death. They can use discovery tools such as depositions, interrogatories and subpoenas to gather evidence. They can work with experts to bring valuable testimony to trial to explain to the jury what happened. Having the right attorney on your side can give you support in a difficult time as you work for justice for your family.

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