Losing a spouse or a child in an accident is one of the most devastating events that a family can experience. Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions individuals take to keep their families safe, fatal accidents still may happen. If your family experiences such an accident, it is important to understand that you do not have to go through this harrowing ordeal alone.
At Dolman Law Group, our Bronx wrongful death lawyers know that no amount of money can take away the pain and sadness that losing a loved one brings. However, we also understand what a significant financial loss such a death can have on your family.
We want to help alleviate some of these financial concerns by helping you understand what a wrongful death claim is and what damages you may potentially recover in a Bronx wrongful death lawsuit.
About Dolman Law Group
For decades, Dolman Law Group has stood for the interest and rights of victims who have died or suffered injuries due to someone else's wrongful actions or negligence. Our lawyers do not defend large corporations or work for insurance companies. Rather, our legal staff focuses on helping accident victims deal with personal losses and unexpected injuries.
Over the years, our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in jury verdicts and settlements for our injured clients in a wide variety of accident claims.
Some of our recent awards and settlements include:
- $3.2 million for a semi-truck accident
- $1 million for a wrongful death accident
- $1.75 million for a truck accident
- $1.58 million for an auto accident
- $1 million for a motor vehicle accident
Even though our past outcomes and successes do not guarantee any future results, when you retain us to handle your wrongful death claim, you can rest assured knowing that you are getting a legal team with the experience, skill, resources, and knowledge necessary to fight for maximum damages on your behalf.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death occurs when an individual dies because of another party's misconduct or negligence. As a result, survivors may qualify to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.
In some cases, a criminal prosecution may follow the fatality; however, wrongful death lawsuits are separate civil actions, distinct from any criminal charges, and it's important to note that the standard of proof is lower in a wrongful death lawsuit than in a criminal case for manslaughter or murder.
Circumstances That Lead To Wrongful Death Lawsuits in the Bronx
Numerous accidents can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- Car accidents
- Uber accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Airplane accidents
- Medical malpractice accidents
- Manufacturing defects and other product liability accidents
- Criminal activity
- Occupational exposure to toxic and hazardous conditions or substances
- Death resulting from a supervised activity
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall accidents
- Construction accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
In general, if your loved one died due to the negligence of someone else, then you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Speak to your Bronx wrongful death attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
Who Is Liable for a Wrongful Death in the Bronx?
You must determine who is liable to pursue legal action for wrongful death. Eligible survivors may file wrongful death lawsuits that name a variety of individuals as defendants, including employers, companies, and even governmental agencies.
For instance, if an individual dies in a truck accident, then the wrongful death lawsuit may name the following parties as defendants:
- The at-fault truck driver
- The employer of the at-fault truck driver
- The governmental agency that failed to maintain the roads or give adequate warnings regarding a road hazard that may have contributed to the accident
- The installer, manufacturer, or even distributor of a faulty truck part that contributed to the accident
As many different parties may face liability, it is vital to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible. These lawyers will determine who may have contributed to your loved one's accident and name all potentially at-fault parties as defendants.
With experience in wrongful death suits, your Bronx wrongful death attorney can analyze your case to determine who should be held responsible for the death of your loved one. This way, you can seek compensation for your losses and justice for your departed loved one.
What Actions Should You Take Following Your Loved One's Wrongful Death in the Bronx?
Following the death of a loved one, things can get chaotic quickly. Not only are you likely devastated about losing your family member, but you may also struggle to figure out what you need to do or who to call in the immediate aftermath of the death.
However, despite this confusion, the most important thing that you can do after a wrongful death is to avoid making any of the following mistakes:
- Avoid public statements: In some wrongful death accidents, the media may come calling. Many times, members of the media will want a statement from you regarding what happened. In these circumstances, however, you shouldn't say anything about what happened or who was at fault, as such statements can harm your case.
- Do not wait too long to file a claim: You need to take action as quickly as possible following your loved one's passing. This will not only secure your rights and potential remedies, but it can also help ensure that critical evidence is not lost and that witnesses are still available to testify. Additionally, it is important to remember that wrongful death claims take a substantial amount of time. It takes a while to gather the necessary information and file the proper paperwork, which is why it is vital to speak to a wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible.
- Be careful what you say: You need to understand that insurance companies are businesses that want to make money. They achieve this objective by offering injured individuals low-ball settlement offers or denying claims altogether. When an insurance company representative calls you following your loved one's death, you need to be careful what you say. Even though the representative may sound apologetic for what happened, he or she is likely trying to get you to say something that can be used against you in the future. For these reasons, it is in your best interest to only provide the insurance company with basic facts and indicate that future conversations will be through your attorney. Once your lawyer takes over these communications, he or she can ensure that you do not say anything that may damage your claim.
- Do not accept the first settlement: Ultimately, you decide if and when to accept a settlement offer. However, you should work to ensure that the proposed settlement amount covers the compensation of funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, loss of consortium, loss of future earnings, and other expenses. Many times, these initial settlement offers barely cover current expenses, let alone future costs. That is why speaking with an attorney before agreeing to accept an offer can help you determine if the settlement amount is fair and whether to accept it.
The at-fault parties and their insurance companies could try to reduce the amount they need to pay for your losses. They will not hesitate to take advantage of your situation to reduce their liability.
You should, therefore, consult a wrongful death lawyer with experience handling these types of critical cases. An attorney can help provide you with the answers and information you need to take on a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition, they will be able to anticipate and counteract unscrupulous actions by the opposing party and their insurance company. A wrongful death attorney understands the difficulties faced by loved ones who have lost someone in a wrongful death case. They will work with you to reduce the legal pressure and support you through this difficult transition.
What Proof Is Required in Bronx Wrongful Death Claims?
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the Bronx, you need to show:
- The at-fault party's actions or negligence would have entitled the decedent to file an action to recover damages had he or she survived.
- There are surviving distributes, including the spouse, dependents of the victim, and children.
- There are monetary damages that resulted from the decedent's death.
A lawyer who specializes in wrongful death lawsuits will know how to place monetary value on your losses. They will use documentary evidence, witnesses, and expert statements to provide the necessary proof to support your case and ensure you get the compensation you need.
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the Bronx?
If you lost a loved one due to another person's wrongful or negligent actions, you could bring a wrongful death lawsuit to seek damages for your losses. However, according to New York law, only the personal representative of the deceased's estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
A court may also award damages to:
- Decedent's spouse
- Decedent's children
- Decedent's parents
Typically, a decedent's siblings or cousins do not have a right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in New York. They must be a personal representative of the decedent, or a guardian. If you are unsure whether you can bring a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party, speak with your Bronx wrongful death lawyer.
Your attorney will know the laws pertaining to the representation of the deceased's estate and the rights of immediate family members under New York law.
How Long do You Have to File a Bronx Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In New York, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the decedent's death. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
For example, suppose a criminal proceeding is brought against the defendant. In that case, the decedent's personal representative can have at least one year from the proceedings' termination to begin a wrongful death lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations has expired at that point.
This exception unburdens the personal representative from taking part in two separate legal proceedings while also allowing the personal representative to use the criminal judgment of conviction on specific civil case issues as collateral estoppel.
Additionally, if the decedent's only distributee is a minor, the statute of limitations is usually tolled until the distributee has reached the age of majority or until a guardian is appointed. As you can see, wrongful death claims are complex.
That is why it is imperative to talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney about your claim. An attorney can quickly help you figure out not only if you have a viable claim and how much time you have to file.
Speak with your Bronx wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the accident. This way, they can ensure you have enough time to prepare your case. Although two years may seem like sufficient time, your attorney will need time to build a successful case on your behalf. This process can take longer if there is an ongoing criminal trial.
While many wrongful death cases are settled out of court, your attorney may have to represent you in a civil trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. You will have the best chance of success in a wrongful death case if your attorney has the time to prepare a solid case on your behalf.
Bronx Wrongful Death Claims and Damages
In a wrongful death claim, pecuniary or financial injury is the primary recoverable damage. The decedent's survivors cannot recover damages for their own grief or pain and suffering, for example. These eligible economic losses include:
- Reasonable earning values that were lost between the time of the initial injury and the time of the decedent's death
- Loss prospect of inheritance
- Cost of nursing care or medical care before the decedent's death
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- The loss of the decedent's support, companionship, and services
- The loss of parental guidance and nurturing
In extreme cases, where the wrongdoer's actions are particularly egregious and malicious, the court may also award punitive damages. Unlike pecuniary damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the decedent's survivors; rather, such damages are intended to punish and deter the wrongful party's egregious actions.
Your wrongful death lawyer could explain the different types of damage you can claim. They could use expert testimony to establish a monetary value for both tangible and intangible losses. They will also establish a fair monetary value for punitive damages and present it to the court on your behalf.
Determining Economic Damages in Bronx Wrongful Death Claims
When calculating economic damages, there are numerous factors that a court will look into.
However, the primary consideration in awarding these damages is the decedent's circumstances at the time of his or her death, including:
- Decedent's age
- Decedent's condition and character
- Decedent's earning capacity
- Decedent's health and intelligence
- Decedent's life expectancy
- Specific circumstances of the distribute
Even though these damages are actual monetary losses, the determination often becomes quite complicated. Speaking with your attorney can help determine what factors may influence your economic damages and how to go after maximum compensation.
Differences Between a Bronx Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action
There are instances where a person initially survives a horrific accident but later passes away from injuries before filing a lawsuit. Under these circumstances, New York law allows the estate's representative to pursue a survival action, indicating that the right to file a lawsuit is said to survive the injured person's death.
As a result, because this action is brought in the name of the injured individual, recoverable damages include pain and suffering experienced at the time of the accident as well as at the time of death.
Any damages obtained in the survival action go directly into the decedent's estate and are distributed to the family members and other beneficiaries. The court may look into several factors when determining the amount of these survival damages, including:
- The decedent's degree of consciousness
- The decedent's nervousness of impending death and the duration of such suffering
- The decedent's pain and its severity
For instance, if the decedent was conscious during the application of a painful treatment following an accident and was screaming during the procedure, then there is a greater chance that the estate's representative will be awarded survival damages than in a case where evidence of pain and suffering is only shown through some leg, head, or arm movement.
A wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether a survival action or wrongful death claim is appropriate for your situation.
Bronx Wrongful Death FAQs
Losing a loved one is a devastating ordeal, and the questions and concerns that follow can leave survivors feeling overwhelmed, especially when trying to tackle the legal complexities involved in a wrongful death lawsuit. That is why we have prepared the following frequently asked questions regarding wrongful death claims.
With this information, we hope to provide you with the answers you need, and to show you how Dolman Law Group can help you get through this challenging time.
1. Why Are Bronx Wrongful Death Claims So Important?
When your loved one dies because of another individual's carelessness, wrongful acts, or negligence, they can no longer seek justice. New York recognizes this injustice and thus has laws that allow surviving family members to bring a claim on behalf of their deceased loved one.
Through this legal course of action, the family members can recover compensation for what the deceased suffered before death and the economic losses that the family members have suffered because of their loved one's wrongful death.
These expenses may include loss of the value of household services, loss of companionship, medical bills and expenses, and loss of income.
2. What does a Claim for Wrongful Death Require in the Bronx?
According to New York's regulations, to establish a claim for wrongful death, an eligible surviving family member needs to prove:
- There was a death.
- The death was due to the unlawful conduct of the at-fault party.
- This wrongful conduct gave rise to a cause of action the deceased could have pursued—had he or she survived.
- There is a surviving relative, such as a spouse or child, who suffered a loss as a result of the death.
- Damages were suffered that the estate could recover.
New York does not recognize wrongful death claims when a fetus dies before birth, regardless of whether the death resulted because of the wrongful actions of another party.
A wrongful death attorney will have experience with compiling documentation and evidence to prove the above points in order to establish your claim for wrongful death in the Bronx. Retain your wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to discuss the best way to establish and support your case.
3. When does a Wrongful Death Claim Apply in the Bronx?
Many situations can result in a wrongful death claim. Typically, if victims would have qualified to file personal injury claims for their suffering had they survived, a wrongful death claim may exist.
Consider, for example, the following incidents:
- Victim intentionally killed: If an individual is murdered, surviving family members can pursue a civil action for the wrongful death that is separate from any criminal proceedings. For instance, in the O.J. Simpson case, Simpson was found innocent in the criminal proceedings, but the civil court found him legally responsible for the victims' deaths.
- Negligence accidents involving fatalities: If a car accident results in a fatality, then the at-fault party in the accident may face a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Medical malpractice death: If a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, or a hospital fails to provide adequate care, and a patient death results, then the doctor, hospital, and all other responsible parties contributing to this death may face liability.
These are some of the most common examples of a personal injury claim turning into a wrongful death lawsuit. However, many different situations can result in wrongful death claims that we do not include here. That is why it is critical to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible following your loved one's death. These attorneys can help you determine if you have a viable claim and pursue legal action against all those responsible.
4. Can the Decedent's Family Members Recover Any Compensation for Their Grief?
Sadly, no. In New York, the wrongful death statute does not allow recovery for the surviving family members' emotional turmoil or grief. In certain circumstances, the law does allow recovery for the loss of parental guidance. However, the law does not generally provide any financial recourse for family members experiencing grief.
5. What Time Limitations Are Involved in Bronx Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
In New York, the statute of limitations for a survivorship cause of action (which centers around the decedent's pre-death pain and suffering) is three years from the date of the accident or one year from the date of death—whichever is longer. In comparison, a wrongful death claim generally needs to commence within two years from the date of the death.
However, there are numerous exceptions to both of these deadlines. For example, when the case involves medical malpractice or a governmental entity, the statute of limitations is shortened.
For these reasons, it is so essential that you speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible following your loved one's death. An attorney can go over all of your claims and calculate the time limitations for each separate cause of action that you may have.
6. Do I Qualify to File a Bronx Wrongful Death Claim If the Decedent Was Unemployed at the Time of Death?
Yes. Even if the decedent did not have any income or source of income at the time of his or her death, eligible family members could still qualify to file a wrongful death claim. There are likely other damages that family members may qualify to recover as well, such as loss of parental guidance, loss of companionship, and medical expenses.
7. How Much Compensation May I Seek in a Bronx Wrongful Death Case?
Unfortunately, there is no set amount of compensation that eligible family members may pursue in a Bronx wrongful death case.
As each claim is unique, the amount of compensation that individuals ultimately recover will vary and depend on:
- The decedent's age and life expectancy at the time of death
- The decedent's general health
- The decedent's expected future income
For instance, the surviving family members of a young father who is doing really well for himself in his job will recover more in a wrongful death lawsuit than the family of a retired grandfather. Why? Because the young man's family likely qualifies to make claims for future expected earnings as well as his children's loss of parental guidance and support.
In comparison, the grandfather, at this point in his life, is not likely to contribute much to his future earnings or his surviving family members. Most of his children are probably fully grown.
However, to fully understand all of these complicated elements, it is best to speak to an experienced wrongful death lawyer that can walk you through all of these factors and help you figure out how much compensation you should pursue in your wrongful death claim.
8. Who Will Recover Money in a Bronx Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Generally, in New York, either the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased may recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. As a result, the distribution of settlement funds includes:
- If there are no surviving children, the spouse will receive the entirety of the settlement.
- If there is both a surviving spouse and surviving children, the spouse receives $50,000 and half of the settlement balance. The other half of the settlement is divided equally between all of the children.
- If there is no spouse but there are children, the settlement is divided between the children equally.
- If there is no spouse and no children, then the settlement's entirety will go to the decedent's parents.
9. I Lost My Child Due to Someone Else's Negligence. May I File a Bronx Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party?
Yes, in New York, parents may file lawsuits that seek compensation for the loss of their child. However, these cases are typically more challenging than other wrongful death lawsuits. This is often because it is more complicated to calculate the loss of a child's future earning capacity. These complexities also apply to bringing a wrongful death claim for an elderly parent.
Oftentimes, the law assumes that elderly individuals may not have much of an earning capacity anymore. Retaining an experienced attorney can help you tackle these complicated issues and present the best case on your behalf, whether you lost a child or an elderly loved one.
10. If I Want to File a Wrongful Death Claim in the Bronx, How Long Should I Expect the Case to Last?
There is no set time for how long a wrongful death case will take. Each case is unique, with its own set of facts and circumstances. As a result, some of these cases may last a few months, while others take years to settle.
The process can go even longer if your case goes all the way to trial. However, working with Dolman Law Group will help you to prepare for all of these options while your attorney fights for justice and compensation for the entire duration of your case.
11. What Are the Major Differences Between the Criminal and Civil Cases Following a Bronx Wrongful Death?
Typically, the state brings criminal charges against the at-fault parties in criminal cases. If courts find these parties guilty of their wrongdoings, then the punishment will often involve prison time. Wrongful death lawsuits, on the other hand, are civil issues that involve disputes between two individuals or entities.
One of these parties is the defendant, accused of negligence and causing the death of another. If a court finds the defendant liable for this death, that party is obligated to pay the surviving family members for their damages.
In addition, in criminal cases, the burden of proof is much higher than in civil cases. As a result, an individual bringing a wrongful death claim would only have to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant acted negligently. In a criminal case, however, the state needs to show that the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.
How Dolman Law Group Can Help With My Bronx Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are confusing, tedious, and require a thorough understanding of New York's laws and regulations. If you have lost a loved one, you are likely already dealing with enough. You should not have to worry about tackling these legal proceedings on your own, which is why Dolman Law Group is here to help.
Our experienced Bronx personal injury lawyers not only have the knowledge and skills to take on these complex cases, but we also can provide you with these benefits:
- We understand the process: Our attorneys understand what is required to take on these wrongful death cases. We not only know what elements we need to prove to build a strong case on your behalf, but our lawyers also recognize that there are critical filing deadlines that parties must meet. Our team can make sure that all of the legal motions and documents in your case are filed on time and completed accurately to protect your rights.
If you have lost a loved one due to another individual's wrongdoings, then you need an experienced Bronx wrongful death attorney fighting on your behalf. Don't delay any longer. Contact Dolman Law Group today. Let our dedicated Bronx wrongful death attorneys review your claim and explain your legal options.
Bronx Office Location
3250 Westchester Ave, suite 200A/B
Bronx, NY 10461
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