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. Although neither a settlement nor a verdict can bring someone you love back, knowing that your lawyers care and are dedicated to giving voice to your loss can help.
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. For more than 30 years, the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have been handling wrongful death cases and obtaining record-shattering results. 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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Legal Theory Behind Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Damages Recovered in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Case Results From Skilled Wrongful Death Attorneys
The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to ensure that the survivors the victim had 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.
Unfortunately, New York State law for wrongful death remains behind the times. New York is one of only a handful of states in the US that does not allow compensation for the broken heart of family members who lose a loved one through the neglect of others. In 2022, the New York State Senate and Assembly almost unanimously passed the Grieving Families Act. Unfortunately, Governor Hochul vetoed the bill. It is expected that a newly revised bill will be submitted in the spring of 2023. The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy will be doing everything in their power to help ensure that this bill will be signed into law by the Governor.
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. Indeed, survivors seeking compensation for wrongful death have a reduced burden from any other civil case under what is known as the Noseworthy burden of proof. This case stands for the proposition that a deceased or mentally incapacitated Plaintiff should not be held to the same burden of proof as another civil litigant because of their disability or death. This case evens the playing field and allows for a deceased person’s family to pursue a civil case more easily.
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.
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” or fear of impending death, 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 or a medical examiner. 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 lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have retained neurologists in the past as experts to articulate how neuropathic passageways can make the dying patient aware of their pain even in the absence of other indications of consciousness. Lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy carefully analyze the Glascow Coma Score of their clients. This is an internationally recognized standard for gauging the level of awareness of often unconscious patients. While this scale can be informative, it must be viewed within the context of the medications being administered to the patient. Often paralytic agents are administered to a severely injured person to prevent them from moving and worsening their condition. Often, a patient is noted to have a low GSC score because they are unable to move their limbs in response to painful stimuli. This may be due to the paralytic agent, rather than their level of consciousness. Firm partner Daniel O’Toole explained this phenomenon to a Nassau County jury in a case involving a husband and father of three who was fatally struck as a pedestrian on a dark roadway in Suffolk County. When hiring a wrongful death attorney, it is important that they have the experience and expertise necessary to handle the case. Mr. O’Toole and the other attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have handled scores of wrongful death cases over the last three decades with many landmark results.
When handling a wrongful death case, Block O’Toole & Murphy lawyers sensitively balance their duty to articulate the pain and suffering of their deceased clients with the surviving family’s grief.
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 detailing the economic situation of a decedent’s family, Block O’Toole & Murphy carefully analyzes tax records, payroll records, industry pay standards, and anticipated promotions as well as the fringe benefits available to the decedent.
In one case involving a British tourist killed by a sanitation vehicle (settled for $5,000,000), partner Daniel P. O’Toole flew to England to interview and depose the deceased plaintiff’s supervisor at work in order to ensure her work related records and financial proofs got into evidence at the time of her New York County trial. In doing so, Mr. O’Toole made it clear to the defendants and their insurance companies that he was not going through the motions, but rather would leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice. Although a settlement or verdict can never bring back a loved one, it does help the family when they know their lawyer truly cares about them and is devoted to giving voice to the unique beauty of their loved one.
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. The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy vow not to rest until the law changes.
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.
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
- $13,000,000 settlement for the death of a three year old boy and his mother, case settled prior to the one year anniversary of the accident
- $10,500,000 settlement for the wife and three children of a union laborer who tragically died in a workplace accident
- $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.