How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

July 24th, 2023 by

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

When a loved one dies due to negligence, seeking justice is crucial. Filing a wrongful death claim holds the responsible party accountable, prevents recurring harm, ensures financial stability for surviving family members, and brings peace and closure in the face of injustice. But how long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?

Contact Hill & Moin LLP for legal assistance in seeking fair compensation for your wrongful death claim. We offer free consultations.

When you choose Hill & Moin LLP to represent your wrongful death lawsuit, it’s like having “a lawyer in the family.” Call us today at (212) 668-6000 to learn more in a free case evaluation.

What Is the Average Length of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits are unique. Some cases may only take months to settle while others can take two to four years to resolve.

A wrongful death case is a complicated legal process that cannot be hurried, but an experienced attorney can devote the necessary time and attention to settle wrongful death claims. The right wrongful death lawyer for you will be equipped to handle the various aspects of your suit, whether negotiating with an insurance company or relating another personal injury claim or lawsuit to your case.

Why You Should Not Be in a Hurry to Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In wrongful death cases, we understand the desire to settle things quickly. It’s natural to be concerned about how long the lawsuit may take.

After losing a loved one, financial struggles can hit hard. The future may seem uncertain if your family relied on the deceased person as the main provider.

Settling a wrongful death suit fast might seem like the best option. It can help cover immediate bills and keep your family out of debt. But you also need to consider the long-term benefits of being patient. A quick wrongful death settlement may offer immediate relief but is not a lasting solution, for the following reason.

Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side in a Wrongful Death Case

Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible in wrongful death settlements. They often start with a low offer, hoping people will accept it. This process consumes time.

Do not be fooled by this tactic. The initial amount offered is most likely less than what your family deserves. While money can never bring back your loved one, getting the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive is essential for your family’s future.

An experienced lawyer can estimate the amount of compensation you are entitled to and fight for that sum on your behalf. Meanwhile, you can focus on taking time for yourself and your family.

Why Might a Wrongful Death Case Go to Trial?

When a wrongful death claim cannot be settled out of court, the case moves to a trial. Insurance companies may not agree with you on how much should be paid as a wrongful death settlement. The disagreement may be related to what is deemed reasonable funeral and burial expenses or lost wages.

During the trial, the jury listens to the evidence presented by the law firm working on your behalf or that of your personal representative. The jury decides on a fair and reasonable amount for the family members.

The jury looks at the harm caused and whether the death happened because of a crime or a medical mistake. In those situations, the jury might decide that the person responsible should also pay punitive damages.

Punitive damages serve as a form of punishment that can be awarded in certain cases, such as medical malpractice or car accidents involving negligence. This additional penalty serves to hold the defendant accountable for his or her reckless behavior.

What Is Involved in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit comes into play when a person passes away because of someone else’s negligence. The case may not be settled out of court. This means the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death trial to seek justice.

In such wrongful death claims, the court or a jury decides how much compensation the surviving family members should receive. This amount is calculated by considering various factors such as:

  • Victim’s age
  • His or her health
  • How much the deceased could have earned
  • Duration he or she could have lived
  • How the deceased supported his or her family
  • Mental anguish of surviving family members

What can you do to ensure that you get just compensation in the wrongful death lawsuit? First of all, speak to a lawyer straight away.

Why You Should Get Help From a Lawyer

There are several steps to take when it comes to a wrongful death lawsuit. In any case, though, the process starts with the deceased’s personal representative reaching out to a knowledgeable lawyer.

Wrongful death attorneys can guide you through every phase of the legal process. Your lawyer can ensure the wrongful death lawsuit is filed before the deadlines pass and identify who should be responsible for your loved one’s death. This way, you can seek the right amount of compensation for the harm and mental anguish caused.

Although wrongful death cases end eventually, the journey for injured victims seeking justice and fair compensation can be challenging. However, with the right legal support, you can overcome the legal process and work towards finding closure.

Working with a lawyer also makes it possible for you to respond to an unsatisfactory offer with a strong appeal and achieve justice. For example, if the compensation amount awarded is not satisfactory, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can seek a larger, more fair wrongful death settlement.

What Circumstances Can Affect the Timeline of a Wrongful Death Case?

While you realize it takes some time to settle a wrongful death case, you may wonder, “How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?”

The answer is: It varies. While one case may take just a few months, others can be more drawn-out and complicated. Factors such as determining fault, proving liability, agreeing on fair compensation, or whether a crime was involved may increase the time needed to settle the claim or case.

Determining fault

One of the first necessary steps is to determine who is responsible for the death. It may not always be clear-cut who is at fault. There may be more than one party responsible. Difficulty establishing the liable party can affect how smoothly the case progresses.

Proving liability

You may feel certain you know who is responsible, but in a legal case, you must prove liability. To do this, you need as much evidence as possible to support your claims. Once liability is established, the next step is to seek a reasonable settlement.

However, the other party might try to create reasonable doubt, casting uncertainty on his or her responsibility. Wrongful death attorneys can effectively gather and present strong evidence to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Vying for a certain amount

The amount of money sought for compensation can also change the timeline, especially if the case involves dealing with an insurance company. At times, the insurer might dispute who is at fault, which can further prolong the process.

Criminal action

If the victim’s death resulted from a criminal act, this could complicate the timeline. Additionally, suppose there is evidence suggesting that the person who passed away was partially responsible for the accident that caused his or her injuries and death. Such factors can influence the length of time it takes to resolve a wrongful death claim.

Other Factors That Complicate a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death cases can be quite complex for several reasons. What factors can add to the challenges of these types of cases?

Family grief

Though the family members are already dealing with grief, some may be forced to buckle down and focus on legalities. This is truly an inconvenient time to learn complicated laws and procedures regarding their loved one’s passing.

Need for witnesses

Another reason for the complexity of a wrongful death lawsuit is that the evidence in these cases may not be straightforward. Sometimes, numerous witnesses are required to testify to support the plaintiffs’ claims. It takes time to track down eyewitnesses and secure the testimony of experts.

Victim’s share in the accident

If there is cause to believe that the victim may have had some involvement in his or her own demise, this can further complicate matters.

For example, it could be that the deceased passed away in a car accident where he or she was driving slightly over the speed limit, but the other driver was drunk.

In such a situation, it’s harder to determine who should be held accountable or how the liability should be portioned out. Thus, the wrongful death case may take some time.

Insurance companies

An insurance company may be involved in settling wrongful death claims. For example, when someone’s spouse passes away, the surviving husband or wife may need to deal with an insurance company. This often happens after an accident or personal injury is caused by a wrongful or intentional act.

The insurance company is responsible for assessing the situation and determining whether the surviving spouse can recover damages. Sometimes, insurance companies may not respond or cooperate, and that can make things difficult.

Estate process

After a person’s death, his or her belongings and property become part of the deceased person’s estate. Most wrongful death claims aim to financially compensate the family left behind. Typically, you do not need to pay taxes on the compensation received from wrongful death suits in New York, though this may differ in other states.

However, the exact rules can vary, so consult a legal expert to understand how taxes may or may not apply in your situation. This way, you can follow the legal process and receive the correct compensation without unnecessary tax burdens on the deceased’s estate.

How to Determine the Amount of Compensation to Seek

In a wrongful death claim, various types of damages can be sought to compensate for the losses caused by a wrongful act, such as medical malpractice or negligence in a car accident. Some of these damages aim to cover the expenses the person incurred before passing away, like medical bills.

Additionally, the family may seek to recover damages to help address the financial impact of funeral expenses and the mental suffering caused by the wrongful act. Most of the damages are awarded to the family members who are left behind.

These damages cover things like:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Money the person would have earned if he or she were still alive
  • Support and services he or she provided to his or her family
  • Loss of guidance, love, and companionship the deceased offered
  • Mental suffering the family is experiencing

Awarding damages aims to help the family cope with the loss and hardships of a loved one’s death. Consulting a lawyer can help establish the value of your case.

How Solid Evidence Helps Your Case

In a wrongful death case where the defendant acted negligently, evidence must be gathered from the accident scene that shows how the personal injury resulted from the defendant’s negligence.

In personal injury cases, one key element is proving that the defendant breached the duty of care. A breach means he or she failed to fulfill a responsibility to keep others safe.

Evidence can take different forms, such as:

  • Medical records
  • Pictures
  • Witness statements
  • Death certificate

When negligence leads to death, the family may seek legal assistance from a law firm specializing in wrongful death cases. Your lawyer can help to gather essential evidence for your case.

Under New York law, evidence can be used to build a strong criminal case or a suit in a civil court. These cases aim to compensate the surviving family members for losses, including funeral and burial expenses and the emotional impact of losing a loved one.

The evidence gathered strengthens your case and helps figure out how much money should be recovered for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Income the person would have earned if he or she were still alive

What is the Time Limit to File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New York?

Each state has a specific time limit for legal action in a wrongful death case. In New York, you generally have only a few years from the date of the loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Consult an experienced wrongful death attorney in New York if you are unsure about your case or need more time. You may get a statute of limitations extension in certain situations.

If you only discovered the cause of your loved one’s death after his or her passing, the “discovery rule” can come into play. It must be proven that you did not know the cause of illness or injury before your loved one died. If the court agrees, the time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit can be counted from the date when you find out the cause of death rather than the actual date of death.

Get Help With Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Untimely deaths are tragic. Sudden and avoidable deaths happen daily from many different causes. Across the US, it’s estimated that more than 250,000 people die each year from medical errors alone.

When someone you love dies because of someone else’s mistake, take immediate action. You need to find out what to do.

To help you with this, we offer free evaluations to help families understand their legal choices and gather information to make suitable decisions.

Contact the New York law office of Hill & Moin LLP to schedule a free consultation with us regarding your potential wrongful death lawsuit. Our team members can listen to and guide you without pressure or obligation. Many clients have said having our firm represent them feels like having “a lawyer in the family.”

Join the family. Complete the contact form or call us today at (212) 668-6000 to learn more about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

New York Wrongful Death Statute

May 9th, 2023 by

The unexpected death of a loved one can cause a great deal of mental anguish. In addition, the family is left with the burden of having to cover medical and funeral expenses. Understandably, it is often difficult for outsiders to truly comprehend all that immediate family members may be dealing with after losing a loved one unexpectedly.

If you and your family are dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our attorneys can review your New York wrongful death case carefully and provide options for pursuing compensation.

Please contact Hill & Moin today at (212) 668-6000. We will be able to tell you how the New York wrongful death statute may apply to your case. And when you work with us, it’s like having a lawyer in the family.

What Does the Term “Wrongful Death” Mean in New York?

New York law states that wrongful death occurs when there has been “a wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the decedent’s death” performed by a party “who would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such wrongful conduct if death had not ensued.”

Put simply, when the actions or negligence of someone causes a person’s death, and compensation for damages could have been pursued if he or she survived, the case is considered to be one of wrongful death.

The liable party could be an individual or entity such as a company, county, or municipality. A New York wrongful death can result from a car accident, a work-related injury, faulty products, medical malpractice, or acts of violence.

How the Statute of Limitations May Affect Your Case

The time period during which the law allows victims to file a lawsuit or claim is known as the statute of limitations. Each state has its own for wrongful death claims. The time allotted for filing a wrongful death claim might be different from the time allowed for other local personal injury cases in general.

Additionally, in many personal injury cases in New York, the injured person is the one who initiates a claim against the responsible party. However, in a case of a wrongful death, the injured person has died. So who would be responsible for initiating a wrongful death claim to get compensation? In New York, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.

In New York, there are several factors that could affect the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case. Some of these include the following situations:

  • When there is a criminal case pending against the responsible party
  • When medical malpractice caused the wrongful death
  • When the negligence of a municipality resulted in the wrongful death

Of course, there are many additional factors that affect the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in New York. This is why it is vital to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with New York wrongful death cases before doing anything yourself. The attorney can look at the facts of your case and provide options for you to pursue compensation.

How Our New York Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help With Your Case

Losing a loved one unexpectedly due to the actions of another party can cause close family members to feel cheated. Although there is no way to truly compensate for the loss, a New York wrongful death lawsuit can help grieving families achieve a measure of justice, recover emotional damages, and receive financial support.

However, the process of pursuing a New York wrongful death lawsuit can be confusing. In addition to the statute of limitations imposed, there may be limited time for other essential phases of the legal process, such as when the death occurred due to a car accident or while the victim was on the job. If the insurance or work comp deadlines are not met, there is a risk of losing your case.

A highly experienced law firm such as Hill & Moin will know how to proceed with your claim. Learn what our wrongful death attorneys can do for you. Contact us today at (212) 668-6000 for a free consultation with an attorney to learn about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ. 

Don’t wonder about your rights!

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

April 26th, 2023 by

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit? Losing a beloved family member can mean you are left not only battling grief but also facing a host of financial challenges. When a person’s death occurs due to someone’s negligence, surviving family members have every right to pursue compensation via a wrongful death lawsuit.

In New York, wrongful death claims can only be brought by the personal representative of the deceased. At such a time, you need the support of a compassionate and experienced attorney who will treat you like a member of the family and help you navigate the complexities of wrongful death statutes.

At Hill & Moin, our wrongful death lawyers will listen to your story and advise you on how best to proceed with your claim. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (212) 668-6000 or filling out our online contact form.

Filing Wrongful Death Claims in New York

In New York, only the personal representative of a deceased person has the right to file a wrongful death suit within the time specified in the relevant statute of limitations. The representative may also be known as the executor and is usually a trusted friend or immediate family member named in the will before the person died.

It is important to note that this is a key area where New York state law differs from many other states. For example, in some states, certain family members do have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. However, only the decedent’s personal representative has that right in New York.

When there is no will

If the person’s death occurs before he or she makes a will, the Surrogate’s Court will go through the process of administration. This involves appointing a qualified person, usually one of the deceased person’s immediate family members, to serve as the administrator of the estate.

The order of priority for appointment as administrator is as follows:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings

In rare cases where none of these family members can serve as the administrator, distant family members or a third party agreed on by the heirs may be appointed. The administrator will then act as the personal representative in a wrongful death case.

Defining Wrongful Death in New York

While any death is a tragedy for the family, most deaths do not meet the legal criteria for wrongful death in New York. State law requires that the death must have occurred due to “a wrongful act, neglect, or default.”

Determining whether you have a case

Each wrongful death case is unique, and understanding the legal terminology can be challenging. So don’t be quick to conclude that you don’t have a case. Instead, schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death attorney who will listen to your story and explain the legal routes available to you.

Wrongful death lawsuits following criminal actions

Wrongful death claims are sometimes brought following criminal actions, although this is not always the case. New York state law has a specific statute of limitations in such cases.

If you lost your loved one due to the criminal actions of another, choose an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can advise you on your rights.

Proving Wrongful Death Suits in New York

Wrongful death lawsuits are similar to making a personal injury claim. The main difference is that the personal representative pursues the claim rather than the plaintiff.

Both types of lawsuits must establish the following:

  • Duty of care: The responsible party had a duty of care toward the deceased person
  • Negligence/intention: The person’s negligent or intentional actions violated his or her duty of care
  • Causation: The defendant’s actions caused the victim’s death
  • Dependents: Wrongful death claims must also show that the decedent had survivors who were dependent on him or her or were beneficiaries of his or her estate
  • Damages: The decedent’s survivors suffered economic losses because of his or her death

If you hire a wrongful death attorney, he or she will work with a legal team to build a strong case for damages on your behalf.

Evidence in Wrongful Death Cases

Your attorney will gather evidence related to the decedent’s death from various sources. These may include:

  • Death certificate
  • Autopsy report
  • Police reports
  • Video and photographic evidence
  • Testimony of eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
  • Medical records

All evidence must meet the standards outlined in the New York Evidence Guide. Therefore, it is helpful to gather as much evidence as possible and hand it over to your attorney.

Scenarios Leading to Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims can arise from many different scenarios, including the following.

Auto accidents

Tragically, in 2020, some 1,046 people died in fatal crashes on New York roads. If your family member was killed in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, his or her personal representative may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

Medical malpractice

If a doctor or health care provider made a mistake that caused your loved one’s death, you might have a case for medical malpractice. These cases can be challenging to prove, as a wrongful death lawyer must demonstrate how the healthcare professional’s decisions and actions did not meet the accepted medical standard of care.

Some instances of medical malpractice could include:

  • Surgical errors
  • Failure to make an accurate diagnosis
  • Improper treatment
  • Lack of warning of known risks
  • Errors with medication of anesthesia

These cases are not easy, but your claim may have merit. Let an experienced attorney advise you on whether you can file a wrongful death claim and pursue justice for your loved one.

Intentional acts

While many wrongful deaths occur due to negligence, some are the result of intentional acts. For example, in 2022, 433 people lost their lives in homicides in New York City alone. Whether you have a criminal case or not, you may also have recourse to file a wrongful death lawsuit if someone else’s intentional acts caused the death of your family member.

Criminal and civil cases follow different laws and have different burdens of proof. So even if someone has been acquitted in a criminal court, there is still a possibility of filing a successful wrongful death claim.

Come talk to the legal team at Hill & Moin for free. We can arrange for a wrongful death attorney to listen kindly and patiently as you explain what happened to your loved one. He or she can then advise you on the legal avenues that you may be able to explore.

Exceptions to wrongful death claims in New York

Losing a baby before birth is a crushing blow for any parent. However, the 1969 Endresz v. Friedberg case established that the New York wrongful death statute does not allow you to file a claim if a fetus dies before birth. This would be the case even if another person’s wrongful actions caused the fetus’s death.

Wrongful Death Damages

New York law allows the personal representative to pursue monetary damages in wrongful death lawsuits. These may include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial costs
  • Medical costs arising from the decedent’s final illness or injury
  • Lost financial support to the decedent’s dependents
  • Loss of services and support the deceased person would have provided
  • Lost inheritance
  • Conscious pain and suffering of the decedent during his or her final illness or injury

One important difference between New York state law and some other states is that it does not currently allow the personal representative to seek damages for the pain and suffering the family endured as related to the victim’s death.

Punitive damages

In certain cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, the personal representative may also be able to pursue punitive damages. New York law states that “punitive damages may be awarded if such damages would have been recoverable had the decedent survived.”

Do you want to achieve justice by pursuing punitive damages? A qualified and experienced wrongful death attorney can advise you as to whether this option is available in your case.

Who can receive damages in a wrongful death claim?

Although only the deceased’s personal representative can pursue the wrongful death lawsuit, the damages may be awarded to others. The damages will be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s will.

If a person dies without a will, the damages will be distributed according to New York intestacy law as follows:

  • Surviving spouse, no children – Spouse inherits everything
  • Children, but no surviving spouse – Children inherit everything
  • Spouse and children – First $50,000 plus 50 percent of the balance to the spouse, remainder to the children
  • Parents, no spouse or children – Parents inherit everything
  • Siblings, but no immediate family – Siblings inherit everything

If none of these scenarios apply, there are further laws regarding more distant family members.

Trust Hill & Moin With Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit

At Hill & Moin in New York City, we believe in treating our clients like family. We know that when you are grieving the death of a treasured family member, the last thing you want to do is fight the insurance companies and other opposing parties. So we are here for you. Our wrongful death attorneys are here to listen to your story and advise you on how it is best to proceed with your claim.

With over 40 years of trial and appellate experience in fighting tenaciously for fair settlements on behalf of all our clients, we have built a track record of achieving great results. So you can trust us to fight for your rights.

It all starts with a free consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to learn your Personal Injury Recovery Solutions®. Don’t delay – call us at (212) 668-6000 or contact us online today.

Don’t wonder about your rights!