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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Who Can Sue in a Wrongful Death Case?

June 17, 2021 in

Losing a family member as a result of a tragic accident is one of the most terrible events we can endure. If you lost a loved one as a result of another’s negligent behavior, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased family member. While no amount of compensation could ever eliminate the pain of losing a loved one, it can relieve many financial burdens accrued as a result of the loss such as funeral costs, medical expenses or lost income.


Below, we define wrongful death and provide an overview of who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim on a victim’s behalf.


What is Wrongful Death?


Every state in the country holds laws that allow family members or an appointed beneficiary to file a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased victim of a crime. This is because individuals who are directly affected by the death of a loved one may have relied on that person financially or in other capacities. It also holds the defendant accountable for their reckless behavior.


Family members of a wrongful death victim have the right to sue for civil damages, such as pain and suffering, as well as financial damages, such as loss of income and/or loss of inheritance.


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?


A designated beneficiary may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. Beneficiaries may include:


  • The decedent’s spouse,
  • The decedent’s children or adoptive children,
  • The decedent’s parents, if they were unmarried,
  • Distant family members, such as siblings and grandparents,
  • Domestic partners, and,
  • Those who may have suffered financially as a result of the death, such as a dependent.


Lawsuits may also be filed by the wrongful death victim’s estate, if applicable.


What Example Incidents Warrant a Wrongful Death Suit?


For some, there may be confusion regarding what incidents qualify as wrongful death. Car accidents, medical malpractice and workplace-related accidents are three of the most common events that lead to wrongful death lawsuits.


Fatal car accidents that are the result of recklessness are the most common cause of wrongful death. Thousands of car accidents occur in New York every year, many of them a result of negligence. Dozens of them end up having fatal outcomes.


What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Claim?


In a wrongful death claim, the beneficiary must prove that the defendant acted out of negligence, which led to the death of their loved one. They must prove that the defendant in question owed a specific duty of care to the decedent, and that they breached the duty of care, which directly resulted in the accident and subsequent death of the decedent.


An example scenario could be a fatal car accident caused by a distracted driver. If a distracted driver was operating their vehicle in a reckless manner, leading them to run a red light and strike another vehicle that had the right-of-way, it can be determined that their negligence directly caused the accident. If the collision were to prove fatal for the victim, then the victim’s family or beneficiaries could file a wrongful death claim against the defendant for breaching their duty of care as a vehicle operator.


File a Wrongful Death Case With a New York Car Accident Lawyer at SPBMCC


Tragically, car accident deaths happen each and every year, many of them a result of reckless drivers who neglect the rules of the road—and fatal car accidents are just one type of wrongful death incident that can occur. If you lost a loved one as a result of another’s negligence, our New York and New Jersey wrongful death lawyers are here to help you. Please contact us today by calling (212) 732-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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