Wrongful Death Attorney in Long Island
The unexpected death of a loved one is a difficult burden to bear for the family and friends that are left behind. It becomes even heavier if that death could have been avoided. If it turns out that the death of a person could have been avoided because it was caused by the negligence of another person or party, then a wrongful death suit can be filed. Wrongful death may seem like a strange term, after all, you may think that any death not caused by illness or natural causes would be considered wrongful.
However, wrongful death is a legal term that covers deaths that are not necessarily intentional, specifically deaths that were caused by negligence. There is nothing that anyone can do to relieve the survivors of the emotional burden, but we at the Harrison Law Group can help to ease the financial burden of your loss. That is because we have wrongful death attorneys with over forty combined years of experience who have been helping Long Island residents with their wrongful death cases for over two decades. So contact us as soon as you are able; we will help you to take care of the legal affairs while you tend to everything else.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is when what would have been a personal injury leads to a person’s death instead. A personal injury is an injury that is caused by the negligence of another person and some examples include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and medical malpractice. If they, or other types of personal injuries, lead to someone’s death, then a wrongful death suit can be filed. A wrongful death suit can also be filed if the victim’s death was the result of intentional misconduct. In such cases, the perpetrator may also be facing criminal charges related to the death but a wrongful death suit is separate and different.
For one thing, the standard of proof is lower in a wrongful death case than it is in a criminal case. Another difference is that the criminal case is all about punitive measures for the perpetrator, meaning that it is about meting out punishment for the death that they caused. A wrongful death case is about receiving monetary remuneration, rather than dispensing a prison sentence to the guilty party. In other words, a wrongful death case is about addressing the economic and non-economic damages caused by the wrongful death.
Economic damages include things like funeral expenses, loss of income, loss of financial support, and other similar expenses. Non-economic damages fall into two categories, the first of which is called survival actions. These are damages for the pain and suffering the decedent experienced before they died. That includes the severity of the pain, the duration of the suffering, and other related factors. The second category of non-economic damages is the loss suffered by the survivors of the decedent. That includes the loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of moral support, and more.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Any of the survivors of the decedent (the person who died) can sue but the suit must be filed by a representative on their behalf. That representative is generally the executor of the decedent’s estate. In New York and Long Island, the people on whose behalf the representative can file a suit include the following:
- The spouse of the decedent
- The children of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent
Siblings of the decedent, as well as their extended family, can file a claim if they were named as the personal representative or guardian of the estate.
Determining the Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
The process of finding out the damages to award to the dependents of the deceased person can get somewhat complicated. It can sometimes require the testimony of expert witnesses, like economists, in order for the jury to determine the size of the damages. That award can then be increased or decreased by the court for various reasons. That is why you should make sure to hire an experienced Long Island wrongful death lawyer to assist you with your case. They can help you to get the maximum damage reward that ensures anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased is taken care of.
There are a lot of factors that are taken into account when determining the damages in a wrongful death case. They include the following:
The Decedent’s Age – The family of a younger person with more earning potential might get a bigger payout than the family of someone who is closer to retirement age.
The Character of the Decedent – If the decedent was someone who spent their money responsibly, then their family will usually receive a bigger damage award than someone who was more irresponsible.
The Decedent’s Life Expectancy – The family of someone who was in good health and who took care of themself is likely to get more than the family of someone who was in poor health or who had a serious medical condition.
As you can see, all of the above factors are related to the earning potential of the decedent; the greater their earning potential, the higher the potential damage award. If the decedent was unemployed at the time of their passing, then the court will consider their last earnings and any potential future earnings if they were to get re-employed. The circumstances of their dependents are also taken into account. They are likely to receive a larger payout if the decedent were their main source of income than if any of them were financially independent.
What Needs to Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
Since a wrongful death case is so closely related to a personal injury case, those close to the deceased must meet the same burden of proof had the deceased person lived. That means they must prove that the negligence of someone else was the cause of the incident that led to the person’s death. That means the following conditions must be met:
The perpetrator owed the victim a duty of care – This means that the person who caused the death should have been acting in a responsible manner towards the deceased. For example, a doctor has a duty of care to try and find the right diagnosis and treatment options for their patients. A driver has a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians, which means that they should follow the rules of the road and drive in a responsible manner.
The perpetrator breached their duty of care – In the examples given above, a breach would mean that the doctor failed to give the right diagnosis to their patient or that a driver ignored a stop sign and collided with another car.
The breach of duty resulted in the death of someone else – In the examples given so far, the malpractice of the doctor left their patient’s condition untreated, which eventually led to their death. In the case of the driver, their collision after ignoring the stop sign caused fatal injuries to the driver of the car they ran into.
The exception to these conditions is when a person intentionally kills another, in which case a wrongful death suit can be brought against them in addition to the criminal charges. As stated earlier, the criminal charges are all about bringing punitive action to the guilty party while the wrongful death suit is about getting financial recompense for the survivors of the deceased.
Contact the Harrison Law Group if You Need to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
After the traumatic event of having someone close to you die suddenly and unexpectedly, you do not want to go through the further trauma of struggling financially after your loved one’s passing. The Harrison Law Group has highly experienced wrongful death attorneys who will do their best to make sure that the surviving family members of the deceased do not have to worry about their financial security.
We know that there is no amount of money that can ease the suffering caused by the passing of someone near and dear to you. But if you let the Harrison Law Group take care of your wrongful death case, then that is one less thing that you need to worry about.