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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

A Guide on How to File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in New York

The loss of a loved one can be devastating for entire families. Spouses, children, grandchildren, and other dependents are usually left with grueling pain, trauma, and financial issues.

When this loss is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, the surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York. Relatives and dependents can seek compensation for the damages they've incurred due to the decedent's death.

This step-by-step guide explains how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York and provides information that victims' surviving family members can use to initiate legal action against at-fault parties.

Understanding Wrongful Death

Understanding Wrongful Death

New York law recognizes wrongful death as a situation where a person's death is caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or recklessness of another party.

A wrongful death case can emerge from several situations, such as:

  • Car accidents

  • Medical malpractice

  • Workplace accidents

  • Defective products

  • Slip and fall accidents (due to negligence)

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

In New York, only authorized people can file wrongful death suits. These individuals are typically the decedent's closest family members, designated as the "personal representative" by the court.

The personal representative can be:

  • The spouse of the deceased

  • The children of the deceased

  • The parents or other close family members if there's no spouse or children

Wrongful Death Damages: What Victims' Surviving Family Members Can Recover

A New York wrongful death lawsuit can help recover various damages suffered by the surviving family members due to the decedent's death.

These damages can include:

  • Economic damages: This includes financial losses directly related to the death, such as:

  • Medical expenses incurred due to the decedent's final injury or illness

  • Funeral expenses

  • Lost income the decedent would have earned if they had survived

  • Non-economic damages: This includes compensation for intangible losses, such as:

  • Pain and suffering endured by the family members due to the loss

  • Loss of companionship

  • Loss of guidance and support

Steps to Filing a New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  1. Consultation with a Wrongful Death Attorney

Surviving family members should contact an experienced New York wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can assess the circumstances of the case, gather evidence, and advise them on the legal options available.

  1. Investigation and Evidence Gathering

The attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to understand the circumstances surrounding the decedent's death. This may involve gathering evidence such as:

  • Police reports, medical examiner's reports, and any other official reports related to the incident.

  • The decedent's medical records that document the cause of death and any prior medical conditions.

  • Statements from individuals who witnessed the incident that led to the death.

  • The decedent's employment records to establish lost income potential.

  1. Notice of Claim

In some cases, depending on the circumstances of the death, surviving family members may need to file a notice of claim with a specific government agency or entity, such as a municipality, before a lawsuit can be initiated.

  1. Filing the Lawsuit

Once all the necessary information has been gathered, the attorney will file a wrongful death lawsuit with the appropriate New York court.

The lawsuit will identify the defendant (the party responsible for the death) and outline the claims for damages.

  1. Discovery Phase

After the lawsuit is filed, both parties have to exchange information and evidence with each other. This is known as the "discovery phase." 

During this process, defendants and plaintiffs can share depositions, interrogatories or written questions, and requests for specific documents. For more information on this topic, Long Island wrongful death attorneys may be able to help.

  1. Negotiation and Settlement

Attorneys can try to settle wrongful death lawsuits before going to trial. They'll negotiate with the defendant's insurance company until both parties reach a fair settlement that compensates the surviving family members for their losses and emotional damages. 

  1. Trial

If negotiations fail to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. The plaintiffs' attorney will present arguments to the judge or jury and support their claims with evidence to prove liability.

Surviving family members' legal team should demonstrate that the defendant's negligence caused the decedent's death and prove the extent of the resulting damages to the family members.

  1. Verdict and Appeal

The judge or jury will issue a verdict for the wrongful death case, determining liability and awarding damages if applicable. There may be an option to appeal if either party disagrees with the outcome.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in New York

In New York, victims' surviving family members have two years after their loved one's passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Failure to take legal action within this timeframe may result in losing the right to sue.

Surviving spouses, children, and other dependents should consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the loss of a loved one to understand the filing deadlines. They can also help with how to file a lawsuit for a dog bite in New York.

Importance of Legal Representation in a New York Wrongful Death Case

Importance of Legal Representation in a New York Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death cases can be complex and emotionally exhausting. Victims' surviving family members not only have to deal with the pain caused by the loss but also with an enormous financial burden.

Fortunately, an experienced New York wrongful death attorney can provide invaluable support throughout the process. Below is what they can do:

  • A wrongful death lawyer can assess the case's facts and pick the most suitable legal strategy.

  • An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation, gather evidence, and identify liable parties.

  • Wrongful death laws can be intricate. The attorney can ensure all legal requirements are met and maximize the chances of a successful outcome.

  • The attorney's skills in negotiation can help secure a fair settlement that compensates the family for their losses.

  • If necessary, the attorney can represent the family members effectively in court.

Final Thoughts: Filing a New York Wrongful Death Claim

The loss of a loved one is a profound tragedy. While a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring back the deceased, it can help alleviate the financial burden and provide a sense of justice for the surviving family members. 

Understanding the legal process and seeking guidance from a qualified New York wrongful death attorney is crucial to seeking justice. They will be able to consult on how to file a lawsuit for workers compensation in New York as well.

At The Law Office of Carl Maltese, our legal team is equipped with comprehensive knowledge of New York wrongful death laws to help victims' surviving family members hold at-fault parties accountable and recover the compensation they're entitled to during this painful time. Contact us today and request a free consultation!


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