Losing a loved one is an emotional and psychological trauma, and it can have severe financial consequences for the family. A New York wrongful death lawyer can help your family recover compensation for these losses and find closure. However, filing a wrongful death claim requires in-depth investigation and proving negligence, which is not always easy. A wrongful death case is also complicated by insurance companies, who try to protect their bottom line by offering low settlements. A wrongful death attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the best possible settlement for your family’s loss.
A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the estate of a deceased individual on the basis that their death was caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful act or omission. Wrongful deaths are based on negligence, which is defined as failing to exercise the degree of care and skill that a prudent person would have used in similar circumstances. This type of legal action can also include intentional acts, such as murder or other felonies.
To file a wrongful death suit, the estate of the deceased person must be appointed a personal representative by the Surrogate’s Court and issued letters of administration. This person is authorized to sign documents, testify at depositions or trial, and act as the plaintiff in the wrongful death action. If the deceased individual did not have a will, the closest relative who is financially dependent on them may act as a representative. In many states, eligible survivors include spouses, children, parents of unmarried children, siblings, grandparents, and financial dependents. The New York wrongful death lawyers at Shaevitz & Shaevitz can explain the laws in your state and help you determine who is eligible to act as a representative.
Once a representative is appointed, the wrongful death attorneys can collect evidence and prove that your loved one’s death was caused by another person or entity’s actions. Unlike criminal trials, which are held to a higher standard of proof, civil trials are held to a lower standard, known as a preponderance of the evidence. For example, former football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the criminal murder charge in his wrongful death case, but was found liable in a civil trial due to a preponderance of the evidence.
A wrongful death lawsuit can seek both economic and noneconomic damages to be distributed among the eligible survivors of the deceased individual. Economic damages are calculated based on medical and funeral expenses, out-of-pocket costs, lost income and services, and loss of the prospect of inheritance. Noneconomic damages are based on emotional distress, disfigurement, and the loss of parental guidance. In rare cases, punitive damages are available as a way to punish the defendant for egregious conduct. In addition, many states have a cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded to victims. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Shaevitz & Shaevitz have the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully prosecute your case.