Queens, New York Wrongful Death Lawyer
The sudden loss of a loved one can leave family members feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to move forward. In addition to missing your family member’s love and support, you may be dealing with medical bills, burial expenses, and reduced household income. If someone else was responsible for your loved one’s death, you may have a right to demand compensation to help you regain financial stability.
While no amount of money can replace a beloved family member, a wrongful death case can help you recover the money you need to take care of yourself and your family and help a family reach a sense of closure.
The Queens wrongful death lawyers at The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., have extensive experience with wrongful death cases and want to help you through this challenging time. Our law firm is committed to helping every client demand the maximum compensation available. We do not charge any legal fees unless we secure compensation for your losses.
Contact us today for a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Queens, N.Y.
Legal Definition of Wrongful Death
Section 5-4.1 of the Consolidated Laws of New York says the personal representative, or executor, of a deceased person’s estate, may seek to recover compensation for a wrongful act or neglect that caused a death.
Because the deceased individual cannot file a lawsuit, their estate has the right to file a wrongful death suit on their behalf. Any compensation recovered would be distributed to the victim’s spouse, children, and other close relatives.
Most wrongful death lawsuits are based on the legal concept of negligence. It must be proven that another party failed to take reasonable precautions to avoid the accident that fatally injured the decedent and therefore the at-fault party is liable for compensating the estate.
For example, suppose that a person is fatally injured in a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property because the property owner did not fix broken stairs. In that case, the property owner might be found negligent in court and be liable for compensating the deceased person’s estate.
However, not all wrongful deaths are the result of negligence. Others are caused by intentional acts such as misconduct or a violent assault. In such cases, it’s important to understand that a defendant can be held civilly liable for wrongful death even if he or she is found not guilty of charges in criminal court.
Importance of Having a Wrongful Death Lawyer
If someone in your family died due to someone else’s carelessness or misconduct and you are considering legal action, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. Here are some reasons why it is so important to have a wrongful death lawyer represent you:
- You have enough on your plate already – Building a wrongful death case is a complicated process. If you have just lost a family member, you have enough to worry about without the challenge of preparing a lawsuit. A Queens wrongful death lawyer can work on your case and advocate for your rights while you focus on your family and healing from your loss.
- You have a limited window in which to act – New York law gives you two years from the date of a family member’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Two years may seem like a long time, but it takes time to build a wrongful death case. Critical evidence can deteriorate or disappear if it is not promptly collected and preserved. Hiring a wrongful death attorney soon after a family member’s death allows the attorney to start investigating the case long before the deadline.
- You have a better chance of recovering compensation with a lawyer’s help – Wrongful death cases are complex. It’s likely that the liable parties will dispute liability to try to avoid payment. A wrongful death lawyer has the experience and skill to negotiate with the insurance representatives and improve your chances of recovering compensation for your losses. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, an attorney can go to court to seek justice for you.
New York State Wrongful Death Laws
In addition to New York’s legal definition of wrongful death, here are some relevant legal concepts you should be aware of if you are considering legal action:
- Statute of limitations – New York’s statute of limitations on wrongful death claims gives an estate’s personal representative two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, your lawsuit may be dismissed and you may lose the right to pursue compensation. There are certain circumstances in which the time allowed to file a lawsuit can be extended, such as in cases involving medical malpractice that is not discovered immediately after the deceased’s death.
- Punitive damages – The compensation an estate receives from a wrongful death claim is meant to offset specific losses the decedent and their family experienced because of their fatal injury. In certain cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the at-fault party if their conduct was outrageous. To receive punitive damages, you must bring a lawsuit that demonstrates that the defendant’s actions amounted to willful and wanton negligence. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether it’s appropriate to seek punitive damages.
- Comparative negligence – Under New York’s comparative negligence laws, an estate can seek compensation for wrongful death even if the deceased was partly at fault. If the deceased is found to bear some responsibility for the injuries the compensation their estate receives will be reduced in proportion to the deceased’s degree of fault.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
To prove a wrongful death case in New York, you have to show the defendant caused the deceased’s death through their negligent or intentional acts. Some of the evidence that can help substantiate a wrongful death claim includes:
- The deceased’s medical records and autopsy report
- Police accident reports
- Photos or surveillance footage of the accident scene
- Eyewitness accounts
- Expert testimony
- Forensic accident reconstructions
- Any testimony the decedent was able to provide before death
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths in Queens are:
- Car accidents – Drivers who are impaired, distracted, or otherwise careless at the time of an accident can be held responsible for any deaths they cause as a result. A drunk driver who causes a fatal accident may face criminal charges and also face a separate wrongful death suit in civil court demanding financial accountability.
- Motorcycle accidents – Many motorcyclists are injured by other drivers who fail to look out for motorcycles in traffic or don’t check their blind spots. If a motorcyclist dies in a collision that another driver caused, the at-fault driver can be held liable for the motorcyclist’s fatal injuries.
- Semi-truck accidents – Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles often inflict catastrophic injuries because of their size and speed. Truck drivers, trucking companies, and other parties may all potentially be held liable for wrongful death accidents.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents – Pedestrians and cyclists are much more vulnerable to severe injury or death in an accident because they are exposed to the direct force of a collision.
- Medical malpractice – Doctors and other healthcare professionals can be held liable for a patient’s death if it resulted from the health care provider’s failure to follow the recognized standard of care.
- Defective products – From toxic children’s toys to defective cars to dangerous medications, many everyday products can cause serious injuries or death due to a manufacturing or design defect. The companies responsible for putting dangerous products on the market can be held liable for any deaths they cause as a manufacturing defect or failure to provide adequate warnings.
- Premises liability injuries – Property owners and business owners can be held liable for fatal accidents on their premises if they fail to warn visitors of a hazard or to fix a hazard they should have known about.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Queens, NY
According to New York’s wrongful death laws, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate. The decedent’s personal representative is designated through their will or through New York’s intestate laws if they did not leave a will.
In the latter case, a personal representative will be selected by the courts in the following order of priority:
- The surviving spouse
- A surviving child
- A surviving grandchild
- A surviving parent
- A surviving sibling
- Any other party who could inherit from the deceased’s estate
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death case allows you to seek compensation for many physical, emotional, and financial losses suffered by the deceased and their immediate family. This includes payment for things such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased
- The deceased’s medical bills
- Lost wages incurred by the deceased after the accident, as well as future income they would have earned, had they lived
- The deceased’s pain and suffering before the death
- Loss of the emotional support the deceased would have provided had they lived
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in Queens, NY
If your loved one died because of someone else’s carelessness or misconduct in Queens or elsewhere in New York City, your loved one deserves justice. The personal injury lawyers at the Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., can advocate for you and help you pursue the compensation you deserve after the death of a family member. Contact us today to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Queens, N.Y.