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New York Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful Death actions can result from a variety of actions and accidents such as medical malpractice, a defective product, or vehicle accident. Serious injuries that result in wrongful death can include head injuries, spinal injuries, or injuries to internal organs. The untimely passing of a loved one brings with it not only emotional hardship, but medical expenses, burial costs, and loss of income to the surviving family. If a loved one was killed due to the negligence of another person, then contact an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will offer you guidance and support, and who help you receive compensation for your losses.

Recoverable Damages From a Wrongful Death

When a loved one dies as a result of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, it can be devastating for surviving family members. Not only do they have to cope with the emotional pain and loss of their loved one, but they may also be facing significant financial burdens, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income. In New York, there are two different types of claims that can be filed after a wrongful death: wrongful death claims and survivorship claims. While both claims seek to compensate for damages resulting from a wrongful death, there are important differences between the two.

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that is typically filed by the personal representative of the deceased's estate on behalf of certain surviving family members. A personal representative is the individual appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person. They are responsible for handling the affairs of the estate, including paying debts, distributing assets, and filing tax returns. Wrongful death claims seek to recover damages for the losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the wrongful death. The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim in New York include:

  • Lost financial support: This includes the value of the financial support that the deceased would have provided to their surviving family members, including spouses, children, and other dependents.
  • Medical and funeral expenses: The surviving family members may be entitled to recover the costs of medical treatment that the deceased received prior to their death, as well as the costs of funeral and burial expenses.
  • Pain and suffering: Surviving family members may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the loss of their loved one.

It is important to note that not all surviving family members are entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death claim in New York. Only certain individuals, such as the deceased's spouse, children, or parents, may be eligible to recover damages. Additionally, the damages recovered in a wrongful death claim are meant to compensate the surviving family members, rather than the deceased's estate.

On the other hand, a survivorship claim is brought by the estate of the deceased on behalf of the deceased's own claims for damages. These claims seek to compensate for the losses that the deceased would have been entitled to recover had they survived. Some examples of damages that may be recoverable in a survivorship claim include:

  • Pain and suffering: If the deceased experienced pain and suffering prior to their death, their estate may be able to recover damages for this.
  • Lost wages: If the deceased was unable to work as a result of their injuries prior to their death, their estate may be able to recover damages for lost wages.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: If the deceased was unable to enjoy the activities and hobbies they once enjoyed as a result of their injuries, their estate may be able to recover damages for this.

It is important to note that a survivorship claim and a wrongful death claim can be brought concurrently in New York. However, the claims are distinct, and it is important to work with an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer who can help you understand which claim or claims may be appropriate in your specific case and who can also help you navigate the legal process and advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to.

Not that if the victim died in a workplace accident, generally, under New York workers' compensation law the decedent's survivors are entitled to workers' compensation death benefits and cannot sue the employer in court to recover additional compensation. Death benefits include burial expenses as well as a weekly benefit that is equal to a percentage of the decedent's wages and is subject to a cap. However, there are instances in which a personal injury wrongful death suit could be filed even if the accident occurred at work. For example, if the negligent party was not the employer but a third party the victim's family may be able to sue the third party in a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.

Statute of limitations

It is important to file a wrongful death claim as quickly as possible as New York's statute of limitations is generally only two years after the death. While two years may seem like a long time, there is often a great deal of time-consuming fact-finding and other preliminary work that must be completed before a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. If a lawsuit is not filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the right to sue may be forever lost. To make sure that your claim is not barred dure to the statute of limitations, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney in New York right away.

Proving Wrongful Death Claim in New York

To prove a wrongful death claim in New York, you must show the following:

  • Duty of Care: The first step in proving a wrongful death claim is to establish that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased. This may include a duty to provide a safe environment, to provide appropriate medical care, or to exercise reasonable care and caution.
  • Breach of Duty: The next step is to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. This means that they failed to provide the appropriate level of care, or engaged in conduct that was below the standard of care that would be expected in similar circumstances.
  • Causation: The plaintiff must establish that the defendant's breach of duty was the proximate cause of the deceased's death. This means that there must be a direct link between the defendant's actions or inactions and the death of the deceased.
  • Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered damages as a result of the wrongful death. This may include economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

To prove a wrongful death claim in New York, the plaintiff must provide evidence to support each of these elements. This may include witness testimony, medical records, accident reports, and other evidence that helps establish the defendant's liability and the damages suffered by the plaintiff.

It is important to work with an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and build a strong case. They can assist you with gathering evidence, identifying potential defendants, and advocating on your behalf in settlement negotiations or court proceedings.

Wrongful Death Claims Due to Willful Acts

Wrongful death claims due to willful acts refer to civil lawsuits that seek to hold individuals or entities accountable for causing the death of another person through intentional or deliberate actions. This can include cases of murder, manslaughter, or other intentional acts of harm. The purpose of a wrongful death claim in these situations is to seek compensation for the losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the wrongful death. In New York, the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim due to willful acts include lost financial support, medical and funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Additionally, the plaintiff may be entitled to punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant for their intentional actions and to deter similar behavior in the future. It is important to work with an experienced New York wrongful death lawyer when pursuing a wrongful death claim due to willful acts, as these cases can be complex and emotionally charged.

Statistics on Wrongful Death Claims in New York

Wrongful death claims in New York can arise from a variety of situations, including medical malpractice, car accidents, and workplace accidents. According to the New York State Department of Health, there were 4,644 deaths due to medical malpractice in New York in 2019. The same report indicates that the number of deaths due to medical malpractice in New York has been decreasing in recent years. In 2018, there were 5,019 deaths due to medical malpractice, and in 2017 there were 5,244. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 943 traffic fatalities in New York in 2020. The New York State Department of Labor reports that in 2020, there were 266 workplace fatalities in the state. According to the New York State Department of Health, falls were the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in New York in 2019, accounting for 28% of all unintentional injury deaths, that amounts 1,055 deaths were caused by falls.

If you believe that a loved one may have been a victim of wrongful death in New York, it is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney serving New York who can help you understand your legal options.

Notable New York Wrongful Death Cases

The following cases illustrate the devastating consequences of wrongful death and the importance of holding accountable parties responsible for their actions.

  • Liriano v. Hobart Corp., 92 A.D.3d 33 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012). In 2003, 18-year-old Juan Liriano was working at a supermarket in Brooklyn, New York when he became trapped in a malfunctioning commercial meat grinder. Liriano suffered extensive injuries and died two days later. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the meat grinder, Hobart Corp., alleging that the machine was defective and unreasonably dangerous. In 2008, a New York jury awarded Liriano's family $10.2 million in damages.
  • Estate of Thomas Brown v. St. Francis Hosp., 972 F.3d 789 (7th Cir. 2019). Thomas Brown was admitted to St. Francis Hospital for a routine surgery to remove a benign tumor from his right thigh. However, after the surgery, Brown developed complications that were not appropriately addressed by the hospital staff. Brown subsequently died from his injuries, and his estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital. The court found that the hospital staff had committed medical malpractice by failing to appropriately monitor and address Brown's post-surgical complications. The court also found that the hospital had violated federal regulations by failing to ensure that Brown received appropriate medical care. As a result, the court awarded the estate $4.6 million in damages.
  • Estate of Madison Lyden v. City of New York, No. 1:19-cv-07212 (S.D.N.Y. 2019). The estate of Madison Lyden, who was killed while riding her bicycle in New York City, brought a wrongful death action against the City. The case was based on allegations of inadequate bicycle lanes and dangerous road conditions.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Wrongful death cases can be complicated. It is not always easy to determine who is legally responsible for a victim's death. In some cases more than one person is ultimately responsible. Furthermore, there may be complex procedural rules and timelines that must be followed. To make sure that your case is properly handled it is critical that you are represented by wrongful death attorneys serving New York who have experience handling wrongful death cases. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Westchester County, Suffolk County, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Nassau County, and Queens.

Client Reviews
When my mom, who is suffering from dementia, faced a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit, I contacted Stephen Bilkis of the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. Not only did he provide a strategy for defending the claim, he also advised me on steps to take to avoid future personal liability. Whether you are the defendant or plaintiff in an injury case, I highly recommend Mr. Bilkis. S.M.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
I had my first encounter with Mr. Stephen Bilkis three years ago over the phone. He and his staff have been nothing but courtesy and professional. Their hard work ended with a large six-figure settlement for my case. I would highly recommend you contact his office. I want to give a special THANK YOU to Ms. Tricia Krapf. She always made me feel like a priority and was always kind and professional over the phone and email. I highly recommend them to anyone in need of legal representation. Celesta