Understanding wrongful death: A comprehensive guide

Understanding wrongful death: A comprehensive guide

Losing a loved one is very hard. When their death is someone else's fault, it can feel even worse. In New York, the law has a name for this: wrongful death. This guide explains, in simple terms, what wrongful death means and what you can do about it. 

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death happens when a person's death is caused by someone else's wrongful act, neglect, or default. In New York, the law allows certain family members to seek justice and compensation for their loss.

Have you lost a loved one due to negligence? Let us help you find the right lawyer to seek justice. Contact us today to evaluate your case for free.

Common causes of wrongful death

In New York, wrongful death can happen in many ways, including:

  • Car accidents caused by reckless driving

Cars rushing too fast or not following rules can cause serious crashes. When drivers ignore speed limits or text while driving, they put everyone at risk. Sadly, this recklessness can lead to accidents where people die.

  • Medical mistakes made by doctors or hospitals

Sometimes, doctors or hospitals make big mistakes. This could be giving the wrong medicine or not catching a serious illness in time. When health care professionals don't take good care of their patients, it can lead to someone's death.

  • Work accidents due to unsafe conditions

People expect to be safe at work. But, if a job site is not kept safe, workers can get hurt badly. This includes not having the right safety gear or machines being left dangerous. When companies don't look out for their workers, tragic accidents can happen.

  • Falls because of neglected property maintenance

Buildings and sidewalks need to be kept in good shape. If a stairway is broken or a walkway is icy and not cleaned up, someone could fall and get seriously hurt. Property owners must fix dangers like these; if not, they can be responsible for accidents that shouldn't have happened.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

In New York, when someone dies because of another's mistake, not just anyone can ask for compensation. It has to be done in a specific way, according to the law.

The personal representative's role

The person who steps in to handle this is called the personal representative of the deceased's estate. This is a big responsibility. This person takes care of filing the wrongful death claim in court. Often, this is someone the deceased trusted and named in their will, like a close family member.

When there's no will

But what if the person didn't leave a will? Then, things are a bit different. The court steps in and chooses someone to be the personal representative. This could still be a family member, or it might be someone else who the court thinks is right for the job.

Not sure if you're eligible to file a wrongful death claim? Get a free consultation with our experienced team to find out.

The importance of this role

Being chosen as the personal representative means you're the voice for the person who died and their family in court. It's your job to make sure the wrongful death claim is presented clearly and fairly. You're also in charge of making sure any money awarded goes to the right people, like the deceased's family.

The legal process

Losing someone you love is really hard. If their death was caused by someone else's mistake, you might want to make a legal claim in New York. Here's a simple breakdown of what you need to do.

Showing someone was careless

First off, you need to prove that the person died because someone else was not careful. For example, if a car accident happened because someone was texting while driving, that's being careless. You have to show that this carelessness is what led to your loved one's death.

Need help proving negligence in a wrongful death case? Our experts can assist in gathering the evidence you need.

Filing the legal paperwork

Next, you need to officially file your claim in court. In New York, there's a rule that says you have to do this within two years after the person has passed away. It's a strict deadline. The person who represents the deceased's belongings and wishes, called the personal representative, is the one who files the claim.

Figuring out the money part

Then, it's time to talk about money. This might feel strange, but it's about figuring out how much financial support the family has lost. This includes the money the person would have earned, medical bills before they died, the cost of the funeral, and how much they meant to their family in other ways, like care and support.

Facing challenges with the legal paperwork? Contact us now for professional assistance to navigate through the process smoothly.

Compensation in wrongful death cases

When someone dies because of another person's mistake, the family left behind can ask for money to help them out. This is called compensation. In New York, this money is meant to help cover the big financial hit a family takes and to support them during such a hard time. Here's a bit more about what this includes.

Funeral and burial costs

First off, saying goodbye to a loved one can be really expensive. This money can help pay for the funeral and the burial, which means one less thing for the family to worry about during a sad time.

Medical bills

Before someone dies, they might have been sick or hurt and needed medical care. This can cost a lot of money. Compensation can help cover these bills, so the family doesn't have to.

Lost wages and benefits

The person who died might have been the one bringing in money to take care of the family. When they're gone, the family loses that income. Compensation tries to make up for this loss. It includes the money the person would have earned if they hadn't died, which helps the family keep going.

Pain and suffering of the deceased before they died

Sometimes, the person who died suffered a lot before passing away. Even though money can't take away the pain, it's a way of recognizing what they went through. This part of the compensation is for their pain and suffering.

Unsure about the compensation you're entitled to? Discuss your case with us for a clear understanding of what you can claim.


Losing a loved one is one of the hardest experiences anyone can go through, especially when their death is caused by someone else's actions. In New York, wrongful death claims offer a way for families to seek justice and financial support in the wake of such a tragedy. This guide has walked you through the basics of what wrongful death means, the common causes, who can file a claim, and the compensation that may be available. While no amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, understanding your rights and the legal process can be a crucial step in finding some measure of solace and support. If you're navigating this difficult journey, remember that help is available and you don't have to go through it alone.

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