Our world is collectively safer than ever before, but wrongful deaths are still unfortunately common. Those who wrongfully died may not be able to pursue justice against those responsible, but their family members can often receive financial compensation through wrongful death lawsuits.

However, wrongful death lawsuits can be complex, time-consuming, and emotionally intimidating. In the aftermath of a wrongful death, the deceased’s loved ones may have difficulty filing paperwork on time, may not know what to expect, and may not know how to secure the compensation they deserve.

Wrongful death attorneys can help. These legal professionals can assist with wrongful death lawsuits and provide invaluable legal support during these trying emotional times.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. offers the legal assistance you need to get an optimal outcome for your wrongful death lawsuit. We’ve helped people just like you throughout New York City and beyond, and we’re well equipped and ready to hear your case with a free case evaluation.

What Is a Wrongful Death per New York State Law? 

Wrongful death” is a precise legal term that carries great weight in the New York legal system.

A wrongful death is any death directly caused due to a wrongful act, neglect, or default.” A wrongful act can include actions like medical malpractice, hitting someone in a moving vehicle, and more. Wrongful acts are often but not always unintentional.

Neglectful actions are those closely tied to negligence, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A neglectful death may still be classified as wrongful depending on the case specifics. 

Default wrongful acts are intentionally harmful acts like crimes, including assaults, battery, and more.

For the families of victims, wrongful deaths can be traumatic and lead to wide-ranging consequences, including:

  • Emotional turmoil
  • Financial instability or uncertainty
  • Medical bills and complications (if a family member was involved in the same incident that led to the wrongful death)

Causes of Wrongful Deaths

Wrongful deaths may be caused due to many root causes. Common examples of wrongful deaths include:

  • One driver is injured in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver and dies in the hospital due to their injuries. This is a wrongful death because the driver who caused the accident was driving under the influence of alcohol, so they were willfully negligent of their responsibility to drive safely.
  • A construction worker falls from scaffolding when it is not set up properly due to contractor negligence. The fault for the death rests on the shoulders of the contracting company or the manufacturer of the scaffolding equipment.
  • A mugging goes wrong and leads to the death of a loved one. The mugger is caught and charged with wrongful death because they did not mean to cause a fatal injury yet did so anyway.

In each of these cases and more, the deceased’s loved ones may have difficulty moving on or handling the legal responsibilities involved in a lawsuit. Wrongful death attorneys can assist during this stressful period and ensure that a wrongful death lawsuit is filed on time.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Eligibility

In New York State, only the personal representative or executor” for a deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is distinct from many other states, which allow family members such as parents, children, or spouses to bring wrongful death claims to court, even if they are not the personal representative.

In New York, such family members can only file a wrongful death lawsuit if they are the personal representative for the deceased’s estate. In most cases, the personal representative is the person in charge of reading and managing the will and any assets that belonged to the deceased person.

If you’re unsure whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, lawyers may be able to help you identify this person for the deceased’s estate. 

New York Wrongful Death Claim Statute of Limitations

The executor for a deceased person must also consider the statute of limitations for these cases. All criminal cases have a statute of limitations, which is a time limit after which a case cannot be brought to court regarding a past event.

The statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. For example, if a deceased person passed away on August 9, 2020, the executor of their estate would have until August 9, 2022, to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

There are exceptions to the general to your limit above, however, such as:

  • A medical malpractice wrongful death carries a statute of limitations of 2 ½ years from the date of the deceased’s death
  • If the person accused of responsibility for the death is also charged with criminal activity from the same event that caused the death, the statute of limitations is one year after the date the criminal case ends. For instance, if a drunk driver is accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian on September 3, 2020, and their court case for the event ends on July 1, 2021, the executor of the deceased victim’s estate would have until July 1, 2022, to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

It can be tough for family members or estate executors to know how long they have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s one more reason why legal professionals like Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. can be helpful during these cases. Call us at (516) 342-2200 to get more information on how your case might proceed. 

Potential Damages for New York Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Unlike many other criminal cases, damages may not be awarded to the deceased in a wrongful death case for obvious reasons. However, successful wrongful death cases may still result in damages awarded to a deceased person’s estate or survivors as compensation.

Damage award amounts and types will vary heavily depending on the circumstances of each wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, compensation covers expenses and losses, including but not limited to:

  • Funeral expenses, including those for burials or cremation
  • Healthcare expenses if they were related to the deceased person’s medical care or injury treatment prior to death
  • Past and future medical bills for others involved in the accident (i.e., other victims if several were involved in a single car accident)
  • Financial support for the deceased’s family members
  • Compensation for loss of income
  • Compensation in place of the value of parental nurturing, guidance, and emotional support to surviving children
  • Lost inheritance awards
  • Pain and suffering for the deceased prior to death

New York wrongful death lawsuits do not allow any surviving family members to recover damages for their own pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or mental anguish.

Regardless, successful wrongful death lawsuits may lead to compensation awards up to the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

The Importance of Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful death attorneys are legal professionals who have the knowledge necessary to secure optimal case outcomes for their clients. Specifically, attorneys with experience in wrongful death cases may assist with your upcoming court case and proceedings in three key ways, among others.

Help Investigating the Wrongful Death

Firstly, a wrongful death attorney can help you investigate the circumstances of a wrongful death, such as by gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and speaking to police or acquiring police reports. In the aftermath of a wrongful death event, family members and estate executors are often not prepared to handle this mountain of work.

Wrongful death legal teams can shoulder this burden and ensure that they gather enough evidence to create a compelling, convincing case. Furthermore, attorneys know who to contact and what questions to ask when putting together a case.

When Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. takes on your case, we take on a majority of the investigative workload. We can give you time to grieve, plan for a funeral or memorial service, and carry out your other responsibilities without having to worry about getting eyewitness statements or speaking to the police.

You have enough on your plate when your family suffers a wrongful death. Let Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. help with the burden. Contact our experienced lawyers at (516) 342-2200.

File Paperwork on Time

Next, wrongful death attorneys know all about statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims and other types of lawsuits. With their assistance, you won’t run into problems with the statute of limitations or accidentally try to file your claim a few days after it expires.

This is not normally a problem given the lengthy statute of limitations assigned to wrongful death cases. However, it can easily slip the mind of grieving family members or those who knew the wrongful death victim.

With our experience handling wrongful death cases, Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. won’t allow you to miss these deadlines. We can remind you about the upcoming statute of limitations expirations and ensure that the court receives all your paperwork promptly.

This helps your case retroactively and can help avoid unnecessary legal complications or delays, particularly when you need damages to pay for upcoming funeral expenses.

Present Your Case Persuasively

Lastly, wrongful death lawyers can present a legal case persuasively and convincingly to court, especially if they have a history of success. Wrongful death lawsuits are not always airtight or open-and-shut – in many cases, there are conflicting viewpoints, different types of evidence available, and competing perspectives.

None of this matters to the family members and loved ones of a wrongful death victim, who just want their lawsuit to succeed so they can receive the funds they need to pay for funeral expenses. The right wrongful death law firm can ensure that family members and estate executors stand the best chance of securing the maximum amount of compensation possible.

Furthermore, lawyers with experience in wrongful death cases can coach family members, executors, and others involved in a wrongful death case to maximum effect. When you hire Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C., we’ll treat you as our most important client – because you will be.

We know how difficult it is to speak of the events that led to wrongful deaths, especially if you were close to the deceased. We can offer our empathy, legal skills, and extensive knowledge, so your case stands the best chance of success.

Contact Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

Ultimately, the estate executors or family members of wrongful death victims should immediately consider hiring a wrongful death attorney. It’s impossible to fully prepare for circumstances like these, but the right legal officials can make the lawsuit process easier and more likely to result in an optimal outcome.

With years of experience handling cases just like yours, Schwartzapfel Lawyers P. C. is already suited for your legal needs. In fact, we not only cover practice areas like wrongful death, but we can also assist with related cases such as personal injuries, auto accidents, and more.

Not sure whether we’re right for your case? You can contact us today for a free case evaluation and no strings attached. You probably still have a lot of questions about a wrongful death lawsuit, even after reading the above breakdown. Call us at (516) 342-2200 to ask us those questions personally.


Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New York | Nolo.com

Statute of Limitations chart | NY CourtHelp

Summary of State Wrongful Death and Intestacy Statutes | Justice.gov

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