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In wrongful death suits, New York is unlike other states

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2020 | Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases in the state of New York are unusually complex compared to those across the United States. Over the years, many other states have streamlined their laws for wrongful death suits, while New York has largely lagged the rest of the country in this way.

It takes an experienced team of attorneys to attempt a wrongful death case in New York state.

Who files suit?

The personal representative of the deceased can file a wrongful death suit in New York State. So, unless the court decides that a daughter, son, former spouse or anyone else is the personal representative, they cannot file the suit. However, the representative would be responsible for properly distributing any award to the other awardees.

Often, the personal representative is the spouse of the deceased or an attorney they have chosen. If the deceased left a will, they named a personal representative, and if they did not leave a will, New York has a procedure for naming the correct representative.

What kind of compensation can a suit try to recover?

The kinds of compensation for harm done by the wrongful death is also unusual in New York state. The suit can seek:

  • Lost financial and other help to the family.
  • Lost parenting, plus financial and other support to the children.
  • Lost assets the children would have inherited.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Health care expenses from the fatal injury/illness.
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased missed during the fatal injury/illness.
  • An increase of 9% on the damages, from the date of death to the date of the award.
  • The physical and emotional pain and suffering the deceased experienced from their fatal injury/illness.

A note about pain and suffering

Note that the last award listed above is for the deceased’s own pain and suffering. It does not include the family’s grief and anguish related to the death of their loved one.

The deceased’s pain and suffering award goes to the deceased’s estate as if they were still alive and the family then inherits the funds.

New York is currently unusual in this way, as most states allow awards for the family’s emotional suffering. A recent bill unsuccessfully attempted to address the concerns of critics who say that the state’s laws wrongful death laws not been overhauled since the late 1800s and do not coordinate well with those of the vast majority of other states.


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