Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, but it can be especially painful if the passing was the result of a preventable accident. A death is considered wrongful in Westchester if it is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. If this is the case, the state’s wrongful death statute allows a claim to be filed on behalf of family members or others who were hurt financially because of the death.
While the thought of filing a lawsuit is rarely at the forefront of anyone’s mind in the aftermath of such a loss, it is important to think about the future. Any loss of support from a deceased family member, both financial and otherwise, usually has a long-term impact on the family. A wrongful death claim may be necessary to prevent further hardship in the future.
If you are uncertain whether the circumstances involved in your family’s case may qualify for compensation, or if you were offered a wrongful death settlement and are not sure whether to accept it, contact a Westchester wrongful death lawyer from Tomkiel & Tomkiel for a free consultation. With the help of a seasoned attorney, you could learn about how to protect your family’s rights and the options available to you going forward.
Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits Vary
There are many circumstances that could result in a wrongful death claim. Accidents in the workplace, particularly on construction sites, can lead to a wrongful death claim. Motor vehicle accidents or failing to properly diagnose or treat a medical condition can also lead to a wrongful death action, as may a patient being given medication that is improperly labeled or defectively produced. Other common causes of wrongful death lawsuits include slipping incidents, birth injuries, pedestrian accidents, and nursing home abuse.
Criminal vs. Civil Wrongful Death Cases
Someone can be held both criminally liable and civilly liable for causing another’s death. For example, a person who was driving recklessly and caused an accident that resulted in a death might be charged and convicted of vehicular homicide. The district attorney would decide whether to bring the charges in criminal court and the potential punishment could include prison time.
Family members of the person killed by the driver can also file a claim seeking full and fair monetary compensation for the loss of their loved one’s life. The family members cannot use a civil claim to punish the person responsible with jail time. A wrongful death settlement for a certain amount of money is the only remedy available.
In both a civil and criminal case, if the case were to reach trial a jury would most likely be responsible for deciding the outcome. In a criminal case, the jury would decide whether the person was guilty. In a civil wrongful death case, the jury would decide how much money, if any, you would receive. For more information, get in touch with a Westchester wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful Death Filing Requirements
New York’s wrongful death statute mandates that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a properly appointed personal representative of the deceased person. This means that in order for a wrongful death action to begin, a personal representative must first be authorized.
In addition, the law requires the deceased person to have surviving family members who legally qualify as distributes on behalf of whom the wrongful death lawsuit may be brought. Under New York Estates, Powers & Trusts §5-4.1, the deceased’s personal representative may file a claim for a wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the decedent’s death.
In many respects, a wrongful death claim is similar to the personal injury lawsuit the deceased person could have filed if they had survived their fatal accident. However, the statute of limitations is substantially shorter in a wrongful death claim. Where an injured individual usually has three years to file a claim, a wrongful death claim usually must be filed within two years. In addition, the compensation that can be recovered is typically more limited in a wrongful death action than in a personal injury case. An experienced Westchester wrongful death lawyer could help you determine if you have a wrongful death case and the potential compensation available.
Work With a Westchester Wrongful Death Attorney
Medical bills and funeral expenses are only some of the financial consequences you may be left within the wake of a wrongful death. In addition to the future income of the deceased, a family that experiences a wrongful death may also lose physical and emotional support, help with raising children or taking care of other family members, and help to manage the household.
Fortunately, compensation may be available to help with these expenses and safeguard the financial future of your family. If a loved one in your family passed away due to another’s negligence, speak with a Westchester wrongful death lawyer at Tomkiel & Tomkiel. We could advise you on how to protect your family’s rights and help you begin to move forward in healing financially from your loss.