Losing someone you love unexpectedly can leave you feeling shocked and out of sorts. Filing a wrongful death claim cannot bring them back, but it can make it easier for you to take care of many of the expenses that come along with the loss of a loved one: funeral and burial expenses, replacing the services they performed in your life, and replacing some of their income for a period of time. Do you have grounds for a wrongful death claim? The Brooklyn attorneys at Sibley Dolman can help. Contact us today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to set up your free consultation.
How Can Sibley Dolman Help in Your Brooklyn Wrongful Death Claim?
In 2018 in Brooklyn, 59 people died from traffic accidents alone. Many more died in other types of accidents due to other parties’ negligence: nursing home abuse cases, medical malpractice, premises liability, construction accidents, and more. At Sibley Dolman, we have extensive experience working with a wide range of personal injury cases, including wrongful death cases. Our past results include a $1 million to the family of a father killed in a rideshare accident as well as a range of other successful outcomes. While past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, when you work with Sibley Dolman, you get an experienced team of lawyers dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve for the loss of a loved one. Having an attorney on your side can offer you advantages as you move through the claims process.
An attorney can help seek evidence in your case. When you have a wrongful death claim, you cannot call one of the primary witnesses—your deceased loved one—to the stand. By working with an attorney, however, you can collect other evidence that will help support your claim, including:
- Witness statements from others who witnessed the accident
- Expert witness statements from individuals who can help piece together what happened to cause the accident: doctors in medical malpractice or nursing home abuse cases, for example. Expert witnesses can also help piece together what happened to cause an accident.
- Video footage of the scene of the accident from surveillance cameras, security cameras, or traffic cameras.
- Photos from the scene of the accident.
An attorney can help you navigate interactions with the insurance company. After you lose a loved one in an accident, you may receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. That settlement offer, however, often fails to reflect the full amount you deserve for your loss. If you sign the settlement offer, it could prevent you from seeking future compensation for that loss. You may also need to take care to avoid admitting that your loved one shared or bore responsibility for the accident. When you talk with an attorney, he will provide you with vital advice that can help prevent you from accidentally reducing the compensation you can receive for the loss of your family member.
An attorney can remove some of the stress from negotiating with the insurance company. In some cases, you may decide to shift all conversations with the insurance company to your attorney. Many people who have lost family members find that dealing with the insurance company creates more stress in an already difficult time. By allowing the attorney to take over those negotiations, you can focus on grieving and finding ways to move forward with your life.
In many cases, working with an attorney in a wrongful death claim can significantly increase the compensation you receive for the loss of your loved one. While Sibley Dolman cannot guarantee results in your claim, many of our past clients have found that we were able to significantly increase the compensation they expected to receive.
Filing Your Wrongful Death Claim: What Does It Look Like?
Filing a wrongful death claim leaves many people wondering what will come next. Consider:
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
You have grounds for a wrongful death claim if your loved one could have filed a personal injury claim, had they lived through the accident. Even if your loved one did not die immediately after the accident, but later succumbed to his injuries, you may still have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Victims of traumatic brain injury, for example, may go into a coma shortly after the accident and never wake up, while victims with severe organ damage may linger for a few days or weeks, but ultimately die from their injuries. Accidents that could lead to wrongful death claims include:
- Construction accidents
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability accidents
- Auto accidents, including truck accidents and motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Birth injuries
- Animal attacks
To have grounds for a wrongful death claim, you must have a direct relationship to the individual who died in the accident. Generally, parents of minor children, spouses, parents who rely on their adult children to provide for them, or children of the deceased have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Other individuals who relied on the deceased individual for services or support—an elderly aunt who relied on the deceased to pay her bills and take her to get groceries every week, for example—might also have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Can More Than One Party File a Wrongful Death Claim?
You can only file one wrongful death claim for each deceased individual, regardless of how many people suffer from the loss of that individual. The adult parents, spouse, and children of a deceased individual will receive a single payment, and the family may decide how to distribute that claim amongst the surviving members.
What Damages Can I Include as Part of a Wrongful Death Claim?
The compensation you receive for the loss of a family member will depend on a variety of factors. When filing a wrongful death claim, however, most people consider:
Medical bills. Your loved one may not have died immediately from his injuries. Unfortunately, that may leave you with substantial medical bills to cover after his death. Medical bills add up fast: the average cost of a single day in the hospital totals around $4,000, and that number can mount substantially in the face of injuries like spinal cord damage, organ trauma, or amputation. Including those medical bills as part of your wrongful death claim can help alleviate some of the financial burdens.
Pain and suffering before death. If your family member lingered and suffered before death, you can include his pain and suffering as part of your wrongful death claim.
Loss of companionship. Surviving spouses, in particular, experience a substantial loss of companionship due to the death of a loved one. Spouses may also claim loss of consortium, or the loss of the sexual relationship, with the deceased.
Loss of your loved one’s income. If you lose the person who acted as the primary provider for your family, the entire family may have to scramble to figure out how to pay the bills and take care of other financial responsibilities after his death. Loss of income may also include funds provided, for example, to help care for the parent of an adult child, or bills that an adult child paid for his parents.
Loss of services provided by the deceased. When you lose a loved one, you do not only lose his presence. You also lose all the services that individual provided for the family as a whole. Often, following that loss, you may have to pay for someone else to provide those services. Those expenses often add up faster than anticipated. The average cost of childcare across New York, for example, is over $8,000 for a preschool-aged child each year. You may also need to factor in:
- Caring for the home
- Shopping for the family
- Taking care of yard work, including mowing and maintenance on the grounds
- Caring for school-age children, including managing appointments and providing after-school care
- Taking an aging parent to appointments or shopping
- Providing care for an aging parent
Some families find that it costs more to pay someone to take care of the services a loved one provided than it would have cost if that individual had worked outside of the home—or more than it costs to replace your loved one’s income.
Funeral and burial costs. The average cost of a funeral in New York can average between $7,000 and $12,000—a costly expense, especially if your loved one did not make prior arrangements to take care of those expenses.
Who Pays a Wrongful Death Claim?
To file a wrongful death claim, you need to know who to file it against—the person or entity that caused your loved one’s death. Sometimes, you may easily identify the responsible party. In other cases, working with an attorney can help you more easily establish all the individuals or entities who share responsibility for the accident.
You may also have grounds to file against more than one party. In a medical malpractice claim, for example, you might have grounds to file against both an independent doctor working in a specific hospital and the hospital that allowed negligence to continue.
To determine who bears responsibility for the accident, ask these questions:
- Who had a duty of care to your loved one? On the road, every driver has a duty of care to every driver. Failing to drive safely, including following the speed limit and driving sober and undistracted, violates that duty of care. In a nursing home, the staff bears a duty of care to provide food, medical care, and assistance with daily tasks. Take a close look at who bore a duty of care to your loved one at the time of the accident.
- Who violated that duty of care, leading to the accident? In a premises liability accident, for example, a business that failed to adhere to OSHA regulations, including adequate signs about potential hazards and handrails on stairs, may violate its duty of care in a way that leads to an accident or injury. In a medical malpractice case, a surgeon who fails to check for instruments inside the patient after surgery, ultimately leading to infection and death, may bear liability for that loss. Working with an attorney can help you better determine who violated their duty of care to your loved one, resulting in their death. In some cases, you may discover that more than one party violated their duty of care to your loved one, and you may want to file a claim against all of them to get the compensation your family deserves.
- Did your loved one suffer injuries as a direct result of the other party’s negligence that ultimately led to death? If your loved one dies shortly after an accident due to some other means—for example, if your loved one dies of the flu shortly after an auto accident—you may not have grounds for a wrongful death claim. On the other hand, if your loved one died of her injuries soon after negligence in a nursing home, you may have grounds for a claim.
In some cases, you may discover that more than one party bears some responsibility for your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one dies in an auto accident with a drunk driver, you may have grounds for a claim against both the drunk driver and the bar or restaurant that over-served that driver. Working with a lawyer can help you more effectively identify all the responsible parties in your loved one’s accident.
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Brooklyn?
If you need a Brooklyn wrongful death lawyer after the death of a loved one, Sibley Dolman can provide the legal services you need to better seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).