How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

Lever & Ecker, PLLC December 28, 2023 Personal injury

The abrupt and untimely loss of a loved one is a pain that words often fail to describe, especially when such a loss could have been avoided. When a life is taken prematurely due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions, the grief is accentuated by a resounding feeling of injustice. In New York, navigating a claim during such a challenging time can seem insurmountable. Not only are families left to cope with an emotional void, but they are often faced with unexpected legal difficulties, expenses, and financial disarray. From helping determine whether you have a claim and who is entitled to seek compensation to proving liability through a detailed investigation, the lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC, are here for you. 

For families in New York, understanding how to pursue a wrongful death claim is crucial. Our wrongful death lawyers are dedicated to leading you through this process, ensuring you and your family are equipped to confront the challenges ahead. Let us help you navigate the legal complexities of New York’s wrongful death claims so you can focus on healing and closure.

3 Steps to File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

After the passing of a loved one due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Generally, you must do the following to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim in New York: 

1. Speak With a Wrongful Death Lawyer

The laws governing a wrongful death claim can be complex to handle on your own. The lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC, will assess your claim and determine whether the incident qualifies as a wrongful death under New York law. 

According to New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts  Law (EPTL) §5-4.1, a wrongful death occurs when:

  • An individual, known as the decedent, suffers a fatality 
  • The loss is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party
  • The incident would have qualified as a personal injury claim had the decedent lived
  • Surviving family members suffered economic losses because of the death
  • The decedent’s estate can recover damages 

Our wrongful death lawyers are equipped to handle the diverse aspects of your claim, pursuing critically important steps such as:

  • Conducting a comprehensive investigation 
  • Collecting evidence, including documentation, witness statements, etc.
  • Addressing your inquiries and concerns
  • Identifying the responsible parties
  • Assessing the true value of your case
  • Commencing the litigation
  • Engaging in negotiations with insurance companies 
  • Preparing your case for trial, if necessary

Importantly, we provide complimentary case evaluations, enabling us to hear your story, understand important facts, and assess the viability of your claim. 

2. Determine Who Can Seek a Wrongful Death Claim

EPTL §4-1.1 specifies a select group of individuals who are permitted to initiate a wrongful death claim on behalf of a family member.

It is essential to ensure the claim is being filed by someone who is legally eligible. This includes:

  • Children of the deceased
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Spouse of the deceased
  • A designated representative of the estate

Siblings or cousins typically cannot seek a wrongful death claim unless they act as the personal representative. The wrongful death lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC, are here to assist you in determining your eligibility to file a claim in memory of your loved one.

3. Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim

Identifying the exact parties responsible for your loved one’s untimely death can be challenging. We can assist in collecting crucial documents, such as the death certificate, medical records, accident/incident reports, and more, to determine liability. This involves substantiating the following:

  • The defendant had a duty to act prudently
  • The defendant failed to uphold this legal duty of care
  • The defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions caused the death of the decedent

New York uses comparative negligence when determining fault. Thus, every involved party, including the decedent, is assigned a proportionate share of blame for the incident. The decedent’s percentage is then deducted from the awarded compensation. So, even if your loved one shared some responsibility in the accident, the estate would still be entitled to damages, with a reduction based on the fault assigned to the decedent by the jury. 

Speak With the Wrongful Death Lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC

Losing a loved one turns your life upside down, and having to deal with the legal system to pursue justice can be too overwhelming. The award-winning lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC, are prepared to step in on your behalf. With 65+ years of combined experience and a 99% success rate, we fight for the compensation you and your family deserve while allowing you to focus on the healing process. We are always prepared to go to trial if necessary.

Schedule a complimentary consultation today by calling (914) 288-9191 or (718) 933-3632. Alternatively, you may fill out a contact form.

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