New York Wrongful Death Lawyers

When somebody dies due to another party's negligence, family members of the deceased may be able to recover compensation under certain circumstances by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The idea of taking legal action may be far from your mind if you have recently lost a loved one, but the right attorneys can handle delicate legal and financial matters that may arise if you have suffered a sudden tragedy.

The circumstances surrounding the fatal accident will determine if you are eligible to receive compensation from a lawsuit, and only an experienced wrongful death lawyer can tell you if your situation qualifies. Our attorneys handle wrongful death lawsuits resulting from construction accidents, car accidents, truck accidents, defective products and other types of wrongful death cases.

The attorneys of Block O'Toole & Murphy have won more results exceeding $1,000,000 than any other law firm in New York every year since 2012, including a $15 million settlement in a wrongful death case. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to receive a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Legal Theory Behind a New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to ensure the survivors that the victim has left behind are compensated for the financial loss they will experience as a result of the victim's untimely death. Although no amount of money could ever take the place of the presence of a beloved family member, the damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are meant not only to ease the unavoidable financial burden that arises after such a tragic death (i.e. funeral and medical expenses), but also to provide for the family in the coming years, especially if the victim was the household's main source of income.

What is required to bring a wrongful death civil suit? This is a complex issue which requires careful consideration of all the facts of each case. Generally speaking, the plaintiff simply needs to prove that there is a "preponderance of evidence", or that more likely than not, the victim died as a result of the negligence of another individual or party. The burden of proof in a civil case is often confused with what is required in a criminal context. The standards are very different. In a criminal court, the plaintiff would need to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant accused of the crime is guilty; therefore, survivors seeking compensation often have an easier threshold of proof in civil courts, and can reclaim damages whether or not the party responsible for the victim's death is convicted of a crime.

If you are considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to be aware that under New York State law, it must be filed within two years of the victim's date of death.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

While there is obviously no amount of money that can alleviate the intense grief associated with the sudden death of a family member, the most common damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit in New York are economic in nature. There are two main kinds of damages that can be recovered. The most familiar type of damages awarded are for the pain and suffering of the victim. These are distributed as repayment for the pain and suffering the victim experienced before death. One of the factors considered when quantifying this number is "pre-impact terror", which measures the amount of time the victim was likely aware of their impending doom. In addition, the general amount of time that the victim likely experienced pain and suffering before the moment of their passing can sometimes be identified by expert analysis, often through testimony given by a forensic pathologist. Although unpleasant to think about, this is one of the ways the surviving family can ensure they are compensated for the victim's unnecessary death.

The other area of damages a family can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit is post-death damages related to financial loss. These damages focus on how this death will affect the remaining members of a family financially. In this case, the survivors of the victim can claim damages based on the monetary loss they will experience in the absence of their loved one. Some examples of post-death damages include:

  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of the fatal accident
  • Costs associated with the burial, funeral or cremation of the victim
  • Lost wages that the deceased was earning and would have continued to earn
  • Services that the deceased provided, such as childcare or health insurance
  • The parental guidance that children of a deceased parent have lost
  • A reduction in the inheritance or assets that the deceased would have left behind

A significant factor in calculating these economic damages is the age and life expectancy of the victim when the fatal accident occurred, particularly in reference to lost wages. When a child unexpectedly loses a parent, for example, there may be many years of potential lost wages that the surviving child is entitled to.

Unfortunately, wrongful death law in New York does not currently recognize the emotional pain and suffering of the survivors as a damage for which the family can receive compensation. This law lacks compassion, unfortunately. It is an area of New York Law that we, as wrongful death lawyers, have been fighting to change.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Generally, in the state of New York, a child, parent, spouse, or personal representative for the estate of the victim can file a wrongful death claim. If no spouse, parents, or children survive the victim, then it may be possible for a sibling or other relative to bring the claim, especially if they are appointed as the representative to the victim's estate. Circumstances vary by case; contact us at 212-736-5300 to speak with a Block O'Toole & Murphy attorney and determine if you qualify to file a wrongful death claim.

Fighting for Survivors in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The attorneys of Block O'Toole & Murphy have experience fighting for justice and compensation for families who have tragically lost a loved one due to another party's negligence. Although our lawyers recognize that money means nothing in the face of such a life-changing tragedy, we also recognize that such tragedies can have real financial consequences for a family already trying to process the grief of losing a loved one unexpectedly.

Here are notable cases in which our attorneys aggressively fought for every possible dollar we could recover for families in wrongful death lawsuits:

  • $15,000,000 settlement for the wife and five children of a 38-year-old HVAC technician who was crushed by a falling object at a hospital
  • $7,525,000 settlement after a mother and her 7-year-old son were killed in a collision with a privately-owned van, leaving behind a husband and two young children
  • $7,200,000 settlement after a young husband and father fell down an elevator shaft, losing his life in a heartbreaking accident
  • $5,000,000 settlement after a mother of four was struck and killed by a garbage truck after the driver suffered a medical episode which the trucking company failed to identify
  • $3,000,000 settlement after a Long Island motor vehicle accident occurred when the victim was struck by a vehicle attempting a left turn without the right of way
  • $2,558,000 settlement for the wife of a man who died in a motor vehicle accident that was partly caused by a badly placed traffic light
  • $2,545,000 settlement after a mother of two was tragically killed because of a separate motor vehicle collision which occurred at the intersection in front of her
  • $2,250,000 settlement for the spouse of a construction worker who died in a tragic elevator accident while performing what should have been routine maintenance
  • $2,000,000 settlement for the parents of a man who was killed in a collision with a truck that was caused by an icy roadway condition which city and state government failed to address
  • $1,750,000 settlement for the adult children of a woman who was killed after being struck by a city-owned bus while crossing the street within a crosswalk in Brooklyn
  • $1,650,000 settlement for the wife of a man who tragically lost his life while trying to warn neighbors about a fire that had started elsewhere in the apartment building
  • $1,500,000 settlement after a fatal motor vehicle accident that occurred on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens due to insufficient roadway drainage

If you have recently lost a loved one in a fatal accident caused by somebody else's negligence, you may have the right to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact the attorneys of Block O'Toole & Murphy by calling 212-736-5300 to receive a free, no-obligation legal consultation.