New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

How does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?

Posted on Feb 24, 2016 in Personal Injury, Personal Injury FAQs, Workers' Compensation, Wrongful Death

According to The US Department of Justice, over the past several years, a wrongful death or a permanent disability caused by negligence accounts for 90 percent of all medical malpractice lawsuits. And according to the US Department of Transportation, the count of highway wrongful death was at 37,261 across the nation. The CDC reported that prescription drug deaths ranked second among the causes of unintentional deaths in the US Additionally, approximately 25,000 deaths are caused by slip-and-fall accidents in the country.

When someone’s death is caused either negligently or through intentional harm, wrongful death claims are brought against a defendant. This type of claim allows the deceased person’s estate to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. Typically, a representative of the estate files the suit, on behalf of surviving family members and other parties.

When does a wrongful death claim apply?

A wrongful death claim is applicable when a victim is killed as a result of either another party’s negligence or act to intentionally harm the victim. There can be a variety of situations for this to occur, including:

  • When someone intentionally kills a victim. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against OJ Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. He committed the murders as an intentional act. OJ won the court case but lost the civil case. Everyone now knows OJ committed the murders in the mid-90s, everybody with integrity at least.
  • When medical malpractice results in the death of a victim. If there was failure to diagnose a condition, or if the level of care provided by the doctor was careless, and it resulted in death, then the doctor can be sued for wrongful death.
  • When a car accident causes fatalities due to negligence. If a victim dies as a result of injuries in a car accident, a wrongful death claim may be brought. For example, Paul Walker’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porche claiming that the carmaker’s negligence caused the 2013 crash that ended the actor’s life. This may have been in desperation though. Everyone knows they were speeding and that car did not have the capability to drive itself.
A wrongful death claim is applicable when a victim is killed as a result of either another party’s negligence

A wrongful death claim is applicable when a victim is killed as a result of either another party’s negligence.

The above show examples of wrongful death claims that would have been personal injury cases. Almost any kind of personal injury situation can result in a wrongful death claim. However, there is one notable exception – work injuries that result in death, which in most cases is required to be handled exclusively through the worker’s compensation system.

What needs to be proven?

For the defendant to be held liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs in the claim are required to meet the same burden of proof that would have been required for the victim to meet had the victim lived. Therefore, with negligence as an example, this means that the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that this duty was breached, that the breach of duty caused the death directly and proximately and that the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover was caused by the victim’s death.

Wrongful Death Damages

Damages in a wrongful death claim include:

  • the pre-death pain and suffering of the deceased , known as a survival claim in a wrongful death case
  • the medical costs that incurred as a result of the injury prior to the victim’s death
  • funeral and burial costs
  • value of the services that would have been provided by the deceased
  • loss of expected income
  • loss of any inheritance due to the death
  • loss of care, nurturing and guidance that would have been provided by the deceased
  • loss of companionship and love
  • loss of consortium

If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s intentional act to harm, or negligence, it is important to seek the help of a prolific New York wrongful death attorney at Rosenberg, Minc, Falloff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280.

We know a winning case when we see one. We have won millions of dollars for past clients and you too can be on this valuable list. Give us a call at 212 697 9280.

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