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Wrongful Death of a Child or Elderly Person

During wrongful death lawsuits in New York, courts and juries are given the unpleasant task of assigning a monetary value to a human life. Because the amount of damages awarded in wrongful death cases is based on financial loss, the wrongful death of an elderly person or child may make it difficult to arrive at a proper verdict or settlement amount.

If you suffered the unfortunate loss of a child or elderly relative, our New York wrongful death attorneys can help explain your legal options and how to best protect your right to compensation. To contact our wrongful death lawyers in New York today, complete our FREE case review form.

Wrongful Death of a Child

When an adult dies as a result of another’s negligence, the financial loss suffered by the remaining family members is relatively simple to quantify. For instance, when a mother or father dies, their child may seek damages for the loss of the parent’s income and guidance. When a child dies, however, the parent’s recovery is limited to their monetary loss, which is typically small.

When presented with a wrongful death case involving a child, the court will determine the financial loss based on the following factors:

  • The child’s age, life expectancy, habits and work expectancy
  • The earning potential of the child
  • The relationship of the child to the claimants
  • The age and health of the claimants

As stated above, the recovery of monetary compensation when it comes to the wrongful death of children is generally small, especially based on these factors; the younger the child is, the more difficult it can be to pin down how much the parents or family members bringing the claim are owed. For example, if parents were making a claim for the wrongful death of their teenager, it might be easier to predict what the future earning potential and life expectancy of the child would have been, based on work habits in high school and overall health record. On the other hand, it would be very difficult to determine the earning potential or life span of a 6-year-old, since he or she would have had less time to develop.

Wrongful Death of a Fetus

In some states, a case can be brought for the wrongful death of a fetus. Since it is already difficult to quantify the financial loss a family suffers when a child dies unexpectedly, it is even more challenging to determine the financial contributions a newborn baby would have made to a family throughout his or her lifetime.

Often these types of claims are made against the doctor or medical staff who handled the birth, if the parents feel that their unborn child would have survived if not for some negligent or intentional actions on the part of the doctor during labor. A similar claim might also be made if the parents believe that the doctor handling the birth prescribed drugs to the mother that harmed either the mother or child, contributing to the death of the fetus.

In New York State, you cannot bring a wrongful death claim for the passing of a fetus. It is a good idea to speak with an attorney who is well-versed in your state’s wrongful death laws, as they will be able to guide you through the process if you can, in fact, make a claim for the tragic death of a fetus or newborn child.

Wrongful Death of an Elderly Person

Just as the death of a child may not produce a large monetary award, the death of an elderly person also has its limits in terms of financial recovery. For instance, the courts will often assume that an individual past the retirement age does not have a significant earning capacity. Furthermore, the justice system generally believes that the children of elderly persons are adults and no longer need significant guidance or support from their parents.

However, there are still circumstances in which a wrongful death claim can be made successfully for the unfortunate death of an elderly person. This is especially true in cases of elder abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse refers to any act-either intentional or negligent-that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older adult, and can include physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. In a 2010 study cited by the NCEA, over 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating older patients in some way, whether through physical or mental abuse. Two-thirds of these abuse incidents were categorized as neglect.

These kinds of neglect and abuse can lead to the wrongful death of an elderly person. Although elder abuse can happen in private residences as well, it is often perpetrated in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, especially in those that are understaffed. In these cases, it is possible to sue the nursing home or long-term care provider for the intentional or neglectful acts that led to the elderly person’s death. For example, in one appalling case, a 72-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother died unnecessarily in a rehabilitation facility that was severely understaffed, after her hip replacement incision became infected. Although this infection was entirely treatable, she was not given even the bare minimum of care, which lead to her death. Her husband sued the company that ran the rehabilitation facility for wrongful death, since his wife had died as a result of the company’s negligence.

Speak to a Wrongful Death Attorney

Seeking the advice of a New York wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you can bring a claim stemming from the death of an elderly relative or child and recover financial damages. If you or someone you know has experienced the death of an elderly family member or child and want to explore your legal options, the lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help. To speak with one of our New York wrongful death lawyers today, click here to complete our no-obligation case evaluation form, or call us at 212-736-5300.

Notable results we have achieved with these kinds of cases include:

  • $7,525,000 settlement for a family whose wife and mother and 7-year-old son were killed in a car accident.
  • $1,750,000 settlement for a 62-year-old mother and grandmother who was fatally struck by a bus while crossing the street.
  • $1,650,000 settlement for a 71-year-old widow whose 73-year-old husband died in an apartment fire.

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