new york wrongful death attorneys keetick l sanchez

What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Negligence in New York?

Last updated on: October 27, 2023

The sudden loss of a loved one can be devastating and emotional. This is especially true if the loss comes from an accident that could have easily been avoided. A wrongful death claim is a legal measure that allows bereaved loved ones to hold the negligent party accountable. In accidents caused by observed disregard for reasonable care, a wrongful death claim can be used on the negligent party as a deterrent for habitual action. 

A wrongful death claim is not intended to exchange money for the lost loved one or put an economic value on the grief the bereaved family is experiencing. Instead, it is a way to ease the financial impact of arranging a funeral or, potentially, the loss of a breadwinner.

At K L Sanchez Law, we are dedicated to helping families move on after the tragic loss of a loved one by assisting in recovering financial compensation. We provide compassionate legal counsel and representation. Call us today at (646) 701-7990 to speak with one of our experienced New York wrongful death attorneys.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim Under New York Law?

New York law defines a “wrongful death” as a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default”. It is a type of personal injury case with the key difference being that a representative of the decedent is the one filing the case, given that the decedent is no longer around to do so. 

A wrongful death case can be filed for three main reasons:

  • Negligence-based accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Criminal acts

To establish a case of negligence, it is necessary to determine whether the other party in the case had a ‘duty of care’ to the decedent. Negligence is any breach of this duty of care that causes injury and harm to another person. When someone is negligent under the law, it means that the incident they caused stemmed from their unintentional act. The breach of the duty of care is neither deliberate nor intentional. This can be a key difference between negligence-based accidents and criminal acts, where harm is caused intentionally.

Negligence can be one of the causes of wrongful death under New York law. If a defendant is established as negligent in a wrongful death case, they might be made to pay damages to the decedent’s surviving family.  Call to speak with an experienced Queens accident lawyer today. 

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What Are The Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case?

To establish that a wrongful death has indeed happened, the following elements must be proven:

  • The negligent party acted in reckless or intentional conduct that caused the death
  • The decedent has surviving dependents such as a spouse and children
  • The decedent’s surviving dependents experienced financial hardship due to the death

The evidence in the claim must be well-documented, especially the conduct of the negligent party. Admissible evidence in a wrongful death case can include medical records, autopsy reports, the negligent party’s admission of guilt or statements, and video or audio recordings, among others. 

Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case Description
Negligent Conduct To establish a wrongful death, it must be proven that the negligent party acted recklessly or intentionally, resulting in the death of the victim.
Surviving Dependents The decedent must have surviving dependents, such as a spouse and children, who are affected by the death.
Financial Hardship The decedent’s surviving dependents must have experienced financial hardship as a result of the death.
Well-Documented Evidence Admissible evidence in a wrongful death case includes medical records, autopsy reports, the negligent party’s admission of guilt or statements, and video or audio recordings, among others.

What Kind Of Damages Can Be Awarded To The Surviving Family In A Wrongful Death Case?

Damages, or the claimed losses in a wrongful death case, are awarded to the decedent’s surviving family or estate to serve as compensation for the death. Damages can vary in type and amount depending on the circumstances of each case. Here are some types of economic damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case:

  • Funeral expenses
  • The economic value of support and services the deceased would have provided to their family 
  • Healthcare expenses related to the decedent’s injury or illness
  • Lost inheritance

Unlike other states, New York does not allow filing damages for loss of consortium or companionship in a wrongful death case. Surviving family members are also not allowed to file for emotional damages. These are considered non-economic damages. The court does not put a price on such damages.

New York also allows for punitive damages. Punitive damages are still awarded to the surviving family but it differs from economic damages in the intention of why punitive damages are awarded. Punitive damages are meant to serve as punishment and a deterrent for the negligent party from committing the same act.

It is important to mention that the valuation of the damages awarded will require expert opinion and court precedence. The decedent’s age may also factor in the amount of the damages especially when determining potential loss of income damages.

There is also a statute of limitations when filing a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the decedent’s date of death. However, in cases of medical practice and wrongful death due to criminal acts, the statute of limitations is different.

There are a lot of complicated factors to consider when filing a wrongful death claim. It is a good idea to consult an experienced New York wrongful death attorney. An attorney may be able to explain the different factors at work in your case.

At K L Sanchez Law, we have assisted many New York families in filing a wrongful death claim. We are committed to providing compassionate representation in protecting your legal rights. Call our office today at (646) 701-7990 or fill out our online form to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Difference Between Negligence and Strict Liability

Negligence and strict liability are two legal concepts pertaining to the accountability one may bear for inflicting injury upon others. They are used in varying contexts and demand distinct criteria for validation.

Strict liability is a legal doctrine that imposes liability on a defendant without a need to demonstrate fault or negligence. The crucial components to prove include the occurrence of injury or damage due to their action or non-action, that the action or non-action was not due to another party’s negligence, and the foreseeability of the defendant’s behavior. Strict liability is typically enforced in instances involving property damages and product defects. For instance, landlords and manufacturers may be held strictly liable for injuries resulting from their property or products.

Conversely, negligence denotes the lack of due care resulting in damage. This may appear as neglect, inappropriate actions, or not taking action when there’s a duty to do so. To substantiate a negligence claim, the following aspects must be demonstrated:

  • Duty: The defendant had a duty of care towards the plaintiff.
  • Breach: The defendant violated this duty.
  • Cause: This violation resulted in the injury.

Several forms of negligence exist, such as active negligence (caused by an action), passive negligence (caused by inaction), gross negligence (an extreme disregard for safety), comparative negligence (fault lies with both parties), and negligence per se (breach of a statute).

Can Anyone File A Wrongful Death Case Against The Negligent Party? 

Other states allow any person with a “standing” to file a wrongful death claim, meaning they have a sufficient relationship to the legal matter. In New York, only a personal representative can file a wrongful death case on behalf of the decedent’s family. In most cases, the person would be the executor of the decedent’s will or their legal guardian. The court can also appoint a representative to the decedent if there’s no will or the decedent did not name a representative before they died.

Once damages are awarded to the family, the amount will be put in a trust. The personal representative, in the capacity of a trustee to the awarded damages’ trust, will be responsible for distributing the amount to the family.

Getting The Help Of An Experienced New York Wrongful Death Attorney.

Losing a loved one is a difficult experience and nothing can alleviate its pain. A wrongful death claim can be a source of catharsis. It can provide a way for a decedent’s surviving family to hold the negligent party accountable for their loved one’s death. 

The decision to file a wrongful death case is a highly personal and emotional decision. Our skilled New York personal injury attorneys at K L Sanchez Law may be able to help you make an informed decision. We can provide you with your legal options and understand what you are entitled to under the law. Our team of experienced New York wrongful death attorneys is available for consultation.

Contact K L Sanchez Law today at (646) 701-7990 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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