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The Role of Expert Witnesses in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

February 5th, 2024 by

People mourning the loss of a loved one.

Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience. It can feel even more devastating when a precious life is lost due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. How can surviving family members seek compensation for their losses?

Families may be able to pursue justice for their loved ones by means of a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil claims filed by the immediate family members or beneficiaries of a victim. These lawsuits are filed against the party responsible for their loved one’s untimely death. The aim is to hold the negligent party accountable while providing a sense of closure and financial support to those left behind.

How can surviving loved ones pursue a successful wrongful death claim? An untimely death can arise from various circumstances, such as car accidents or medical malpractice. In these complex legal battles where emotions run high, expert witnesses play a crucial role. How so?

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

To pursue a successful lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one, four basic elements must be established:

  1. It must be proven that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. A “duty of care” refers to the legal obligation one party has to exercise reasonable care and attention to prevent causing harm or injury to another party. For example, medical professionals have a duty of care owed to their patients when providing treatment.
  2. It must be shown that this duty was breached through negligence or intentional wrongdoing. There needs to be proof that the party in question failed to live up to their duty of care.
  3. The victim’s death was caused by the defendant’s breach of care. A clear link between the defendant’s actions and the victim’s death must be established.
  4. The wrongful death resulted in actual damages. It must be shown that the surviving family members suffered financial losses as a direct result of the victim’s death.

In wrongful cases, the four elements listed here piece together the full picture: that someone’s actions directly caused the victim’s death. This can be a complex task, requiring in-depth knowledge and unbiased analysis – but that’s where expert witnesses can be especially useful. How so?

How Expert Witnesses Help Wrongful Death Cases

Expert witnesses bring credibility and authority to the table, along with their professional opinions, thanks to years of experience in their respective fields. These professionals can help establish liability and secure fair compensation for a victim’s family.

To be selected as an expert witness, an individual must have specialized knowledge or expertise in a particular field that is relevant to an aspect of the wrongful death case. This testimony can help clarify complex concepts in layman’s terms so that judges and juries can understand them better.

Expert testimony can help lawyers:

  • Establish liability
  • Secure fair compensation
  • Explain complex issues related to fault determination
  • Advocate for maximum restitution possible under personal injury law

Types of Expert Witnesses Used in Wrongful Death Cases

Different types of expert witnesses can be used depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.

Each type of expert witness brings unique skills and knowledge to a wrongful death case. From forensic pathologists shedding light on cause-of-death issues to vocational experts assessing potential future earnings, expert testimony can prove valuable.

The following are common categories of expert witnesses.

Medical experts

Medical professionals can provide insight into the cause of death and the quality of medical treatment received by the victim. Such experts can also shed light on any potential negligence or malpractice that may have occurred.

Forensic pathologists play an important role. Their objective analysis helps explain complex concepts related to the victim’s cause of death.

By means of the following, these experts weigh in on how negligence or malpractice led to death:

  • Autopsies
  • Testing
  • Medical documentation, and;
  • More

Medical and forensic testimony can be the key to establishing liability and seeking justice for a victim’s family.

Financial experts

Financial experts also play an important role in wrongful death lawsuits. They can assess economic damages such as:

  • Lost income
  • Potential future earnings
  • Medical costs resulting from the fatal accident

By calculating these financial losses, experts help a victim’s loved ones seek fair financial support.

Vocational experts

Vocational experts are often called upon to assess how a person’s earning capacity would have been affected if death had not occurred.

When estimating potential future earnings for the deceased, experts will consider:

  • Education level
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Market trends
  • Job opportunities available

Accident reconstruction specialists 

Accident reconstruction specialists are commonly involved in wrongful death cases. They analyze evidence from the scene of the accident to establish causation and determine who was at fault.

Through their expertise in reconstructing accidents, these witnesses shed light on the details of a fatal accident. This insight can make all the difference when it comes to securing fair compensation for grieving families.

The Process of Selecting and Utilizing an Expert Witness

Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to select and carefully use experts in a wrongful death case. Established law firms often have a network of experts in various fields.

How do lawyers go about choosing the right professionals to testify?

Selection and vetting of expert witnesses

Once potential candidates are identified, careful evaluation must ensue. The expert’s qualifications and experience should align with the specific circumstances of your case. Your legal team will look for someone who has testified in similar cases before. The selected person should have a track record of providing credible testimony.

Evaluation of communication skills

Excellent communication skills are vital when selecting professionals to give testimony. A potential witness should be able to explain complex medical concepts clearly and concisely. This is so both judges and juries can understand the details of the case.

The selected witness will play a crucial role in the trial since expert testimony carries weight in the courtroom.

Challenges Surrounding Expert Witnesses in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Sometimes, the following challenges arise when it comes to the use of expert witnesses in wrongful death lawsuits:

  • Credibility: One major challenge is determining the credibility of these witnesses. There have been instances where experts with questionable qualifications or biases testify.
  • Conflicting opinions: Another challenge is the subjective nature of expert testimony. Each party involved may present its own set of experts or challenge the relevance of the expert’s testimony. Because of this, conflicting opinions and interpretations may be given. This can cause confusion for judges and jurors, who must weigh the evidence presented by both sides.
  • Cost: Cost can be a significant hurdle when it comes to utilizing expert witnesses. These professionals often charge high fees for their services. This may make it difficult for lower-income plaintiffs to afford them and can potentially limit access to justice.
  • Objectivity: Some question whether expert witnesses truly provide objective analysis. Critics may question whether the experts serve as advocates for whichever side hires them. This raises concerns about impartiality and objectivity in the litigation process.

The Qualifications Needed to Serve as an Expert Witness

There are strict laws regulating who can serve as an expert, for example:

  • Experience and qualifications: To be considered an expert witness, a person must have the right background, education, and/or experience in the specific field related to the case.
  • Reliable knowledge: The information provided by the expert must come from reliable methods and principles. The court checks to make sure the expert’s knowledge is trustworthy.
  • Relevance to the case: The expert’s testimony should be directly related to the issues being discussed in the case. It must help the jury understand the evidence or decide on important facts.
  • Professional opinions: Experts are allowed to express their opinions, even on crucial matters in the case. However, these opinions must be based on their expertise.

The lawyer you choose must be prepared to address these challenges head-on. Your legal team must carefully evaluate each witness’s qualifications. This is to ensure that each testimony is fair, accurate, and unbiased.

Wrongful Death Attorneys Ready to Help You Seek Justice 

True, expert witnesses are useful in building a strong case. However, it takes an experienced attorney to leverage testimony effectively. That is where the compassionate attorneys of Hill & Moin can help.

As experienced attorneys, we understand the emotional toll that untimely death can have on surviving families. That is why we are dedicated to helping clients navigate the complex legal landscape. To that end, we work closely with a network of professionals who specialize in various fields relevant to wrongful death cases.

Of course, monetary compensation cannot bring back what has been lost. However, our aim is to make sure you have the opportunity to receive fair financial support during this difficult time. When you hire us for your wrongful death case, we will seek appropriate compensation for funeral costs and loss of financial support from your deceased loved one. We serve multiple areas in and around New York City, including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, and The Bronx.

If you find yourself navigating the pain of a wrongful death, don’t hesitate to seek out skilled attorneys like our team at Hill & Moin, LLP. With support from a dedicated legal team that understands your situation, you can seek justice and fair compensation for your losses.

The road ahead may be challenging during this difficult time, but the right legal team can make all the difference when seeking justice. Reach out to Hill & Moin today at (212) 668-6000 to learn about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

Navigating New York’s Comparative Negligence in Wrongful Death Claims

December 14th, 2023 by

New York’s Comparative Negligence in Wrongful Death Claims

When the unexpected, heartbreaking loss of a loved one in death happens in your family, you expect the law to be on your side – perhaps especially when it was caused by someone else’s devastatingly negligent or reckless behavior. However, in such cases, the degree of fault the victim may have shared in what occurred will have an impact on the amount of compensation you may receive.

If your family member lost his or her life in such an incident, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for your loss from the responsible party. Understandably, as a grieving family, pursuing legal action may be the last thing on your mind, but a settlement obtained by means of a wrongful death lawsuit can enable you to regain your balance after losing someone close to you.

New York wrongful death negligence laws can seem both confusing and complex. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at the New York law firm of Hill & Moin, though, know the ins and outs of such claims. Thus, we are able to clarify your legal rights and guide you through the wrongful death claims process – take our insight on how New York negligence laws impact wrongful death claims below, for instance.

What Constitutes Wrongful Death in New York?

New York state law defines wrongful death as a death resulting from an individual’s negligence or intentional wrongful act.

In a personal injury case, accident victims have the legal right to file a personal injury claim and recover financial compensation for their damages. In like manner, certain surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim when an accident proves fatal for their loved one.

Wrongful death lawsuits allow families to get money back for costs related to the death. In a successful wrongful death case, the responsible party will be held accountable, and financial restitution will be made to those left behind.

Proving Negligence in a New York Wrongful Death Claim

To prevail in a wrongful death claim, the circumstances of the accident must be analyzed, and the at-fault party identified.

Negligence in a wrongful death case generally involves these 4 elements:

  • The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. Everyone has a legal obligation or duty to act with reasonable care so as not to injure others.
  • The defendant breached this duty of care. Either by negligence or an intentional act, the defendant failed to uphold his or her legal duty.
  • The defendant’s breach of care resulted in the victim’s death. If it were not for the defendant’s actions or failure to act, the victim would not have died.
  • The victim’s death resulted in actual damages. Surviving family members sustained financial loss as a result of losing their loved one.

Establishing fault and negligence in a wrongful death claim is not always a straightforward process. In some cases, the fault may be attributed to multiple people or parties.

A well-practiced wrongful death attorney is able to assess the facts of your case and then advise you on how to move forward with your legal claim.

Understanding New York’s Comparative Negligence Law in Wrongful Death Cases

New York follows the comparative negligence rule when it comes to personal injury law. That same rule applies to wrongful death cases.

The comparative negligence law in this state allows an injury victim to recover compensation, even if he or she was partially responsible for the accident that caused them. Likewise, the amount of restitution to which a plaintiff is entitled would be reduced by his or her degree of fault in the incident.

In a wrongful death claim, it may be found that your loved one’s own actions in some way contributed to his or her death. In such cases of contributory negligence, the damages awarded to the estate are determined by the percentage your family member was deemed at fault.

In settlement negotiations, insurance companies will apply this rule when evaluating claims. However, allocating fault is not always black and white. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help ensure that fault is properly assigned and fair compensation is pursued.

Examples of Comparative Negligence in New York Wrongful Death Claims

It is not uncommon in wrongful death lawsuits for the defendant to acknowledge his or her negligence while asserting that the deceased person was partially responsible for what happened.

Here are several scenarios in which the defendant may contend that the decedent’s death was, to some degree, his or her own fault:

  • A fatal car crash: The defendant may assert that the deceased was not properly wearing his or her seatbelt
  • A pedestrian accident: If a driver fatally hits a jogger at night, he or she may say that the deceased person was not wearing proper reflective clothing
  • A medical malpractice lawsuit: The defendant may claim that the victim failed to disclose his or her full medical history or other relevant health information prior to surgery
  • A fatal slip-and-fall accident: The defendant may claim that the deceased failed to heed warning signs of the hazardous condition

These examples illustrate how common it is for both parties to share a degree of blame for a fatal incident. Oftentimes, when the degree of fault is unclear, your wrongful death attorney may consult accident reconstruction experts. These specialists can help determine how the accident played out.

If your family finds itself in this kind of situation, remember that all is not lost. In some cases, comparative negligence laws make it easier for victims to recover damages after an accident.

Potential Damages in a New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In pursuing a wrongful death action, the goal is to reach a settlement that will sufficiently provide for your family’s current and future financial needs while also honoring the legacy of the deceased person. Even if your family member bore some responsibility for his or her death, you may be able to seek compensation to get your family back on their feet after your loss.

You may be able to recover damages such as:

  • Funeral costs
  • Burial expenses
  • Medical bills and medical expenses associated with the fatal accident
  • Lost wages of the deceased
  • Loss of household services the deceased performed
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of medical benefits
  • Loss of the deceased’s pension or retirement benefits
  • Punitive damages

Losing the anticipated financial support of a loved one can have life-changing consequences.

It is essential to take the time to fully assess all your losses, both current and potential, after the death of your family member.

A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer can assist you in assigning a monetary value to your losses. Carefully calculating your economic damages helps ensure that you seek enough financial compensation to give your family a fresh start after the tragic death of your loved one.

Additional Factors That May Impact the Amount of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim

All potential paths to a fair settlement agreement must be explored. Apart from the damages mentioned above, additional details may impact how much compensation you are eligible to receive after your loved one’s death.

In New York, wrongful death settlements or jury awards can vary by quite a wide margin. The conditions of the wrongful death, the degree of negligence by each party, and the life circumstances of the deceased are all weighty factors. Also considered is the impact the untimely death will have on the surviving family members.

Other factors that may affect the compensation amount in a wrongful death settlement include:

  • The deceased’s income, as well as future income potential
  • The deceased’s role in the family, such as primary income provider or caregiver
  • Whether or not the deceased had minor children
  • The age and life expectancy of the surviving spouse
  • The deceased’s training and education
  • The deceased’s health before his or her death
  • The deceased’s age
  • Medical expenses incurred prior to the victim’s death
  • The circumstances of the wrongful death prove it was an accident, intentional act, medical malpractice, etc

The economic damages awarded as a wrongful death settlement will also depend, to some extent, on the financial resources of the liable party. A wrongful death lawsuit against a large entity, such as an insurance company, may result in a larger compensation award since these types of defendants have the means to pay significant judgment amounts.

The experienced wrongful death attorney you consult will work to fully understand the details of your case before making any promises. Because, not only does a quality lawyer refer cases to the best possible fit for you if necessary, but he or she will also work to make certain that every single one of your family’s losses is taken into account.

New York’s Comparative Negligence Law in Wrongful Death Insurance Settlements

Oftentimes, the simplest and most efficient way to seek compensation in wrongful death cases is to file a claim with the insurance company representing the at-fault party. In amicable insurance negotiations, this can be a relatively smooth process.

If the defendant accepts responsibility for your loved one’s death, his or her insurance company will likely offer you a settlement agreement shortly after the claim is filed. In the immediate aftermath of your loss, when you are struggling emotionally and financially, you may be inclined to accept the first settlement offer that comes your way. It is critical to consult an experienced attorney before accepting any offers.

Insurance adjusters may attempt to pressure grieving families into a hasty wrongful death settlement. When this happens to you, proceed with caution. The terms of a quick settlement may not fully compensate you for the long-term impact your relative’s death will have on your family.

Further, insurance companies will work hard to use the New York comparative negligence rule to their own advantage. Their aim is to close cases quickly and protect their own bottom line.

Insurance adjusters may do all in their power to allege that your loved one bore significant responsibility for his or her own death. They may attempt to exaggerate or even manipulate the established facts of your wrongful death case – to lower their payout to you.

Whatever your family’s circumstances may be, it is in your best interest to let a legal professional negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. A wrongful death attorney knows the negligence laws and how these can be put to work for you and your legal rights. He or she can thus shield you from bad-faith insurance adjusters.

Before making any decisions, your wrongful death attorney will evaluate all settlement offers and make any counteroffers as necessary. If a reasonable wrongful death settlement agreement cannot be reached, you can then choose to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Reach Out to a New York Wrongful Death Attorney for Advice

Losing a loved one due to another person’s negligent act can lead to intense emotional distress coupled with serious financial hardship. This is certainly understandable, but you do have hope; pursuing a wrongful death claim may alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you are under.

We understand that the entire legal process may seem daunting. New York wrongful death laws can be complicated to understand. Grieving families are in no position to navigate the legal system on their own.

The team of wrongful death attorneys at the New York law firm of Hill & Moin stands ready to ease the legal process for you. When we take your case, we will do the legal legwork so that you can focus on healing after your loss.

At Hill & Moin, our personal injury lawyers are known for their respect and compassion for every single client they represent. Wrongful death cases are extremely personal, and you deserve to work with a legal professional who will treat you like family.

When we take on your case, we will not rest until we have done all in our power to get your family on the road to emotional and financial recovery after your devastating loss. Our wrongful death attorneys are adept at holding negligent parties accountable for their actions. We endeavor to maximize all potential compensation in a wrongful death claim, even when your loved one was partially at fault.

The Hill & Moin team, well-versed in New York state law, is ready to answer your questions about comparative negligence in wrongful death claims. We serve several New York City areas, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. We wish to give you the confidence to pursue your legal remedies for compensation.

Learn about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ and how you can secure your future. Call us at (212) 618-6000 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. A member of our legal team is standing by to take your call.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York City: Step-by-Step Guide

December 13th, 2023 by

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in NYC - Step by Step Guide

Few things in life are as devastating as losing a loved one in death. If his or her death was preventable, it can be all the more traumatic. You may be reeling, mentally and emotionally, as well as facing financial hardship.

If your family member died due to the negligence or wrongful act of someone else, you have the right to bring a legal claim against the responsible party. After the unexpected passing of someone dear to you, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of taking legal action. However, a wrongful death settlement can ease the financial burdens associated with your family’s loss.

The experienced and compassionate New York wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Hill & Moin can help you through this difficult time. Like having a lawyer in your family, we can answer your questions and guide you through the entire legal process. This article will explain the factors involved in wrongful death claims in New York City, as well as the necessary steps in filing such claims.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to help surviving family members recover monetary damages for their loss and ensure that the responsible party is held accountable for his or her actions. In New York, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the personal representative of the estate of the deceased person against the individual or entity liable for the death.

To file a justifiable wrongful death claim, you must prove that:

  • A person died
  • A person or entity was negligent, reckless, or intentionally caused harm
  • That party’s negligent or intentional actions were the direct cause of your loved one’s death
  • Surviving family members suffered financial damages related to the death

By establishing such facts, the deceased’s personal representative can open a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. Oftentimes, an out-of-court settlement agreement can be reached with those responsible. When this cannot be achieved, compensation may be awarded for the untimely death by trial in court.

Important Steps in Filing a Successful Wrongful Death Claim

The death of a loved one may leave you feeling consumed with grief and anxiety. It can be difficult to focus on anything but your recent loss. However, the action you take early on can significantly impact your ability to recover compensation later.

If you suspect that your loved one died as a result of another person’s intentional or negligent act, you should take certain steps as soon as possible.

Appoint a personal representative of the estate

Under New York law, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members. While usually a trusted friend or family member, the personal representative is not always a beneficiary of the estate.

At times, the personal representative is named in the victim’s will. In the absence of a will, the court has to appoint a personal representative.

Appointing a personal representative of the deceased’s estate takes time. It is advantageous to begin this process sooner rather than later, as it is a key step in moving forward with your wrongful death claim.

Obtain copies of the death certificate, autopsy reports, and police reports

Proving how and why your relative died is a fundamental part of the wrongful death claim. The deceased person’s death certificate, which states the official cause of death, is a crucial piece of evidence.

If an autopsy was performed, this report can provide convincing evidence of the cause of death. Further, if the police or emergency responders were called to the scene of the incident, their official accident reports can help establish what happened. Gathering such reports will lay a strong foundation for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

Gather additional supporting evidence

The wrongful death lawsuit process can be complicated. To successfully resolve a wrongful death claim in your favor, a great deal of evidence may be required.

Relevant evidence related to the accident could include:

  • The deceased’s medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Photos or video of the fatal injuries
  • Traffic camera or security camera footage from the scene of the accident
  • Documentation of the vehicle or property damage

Additionally, proving financial damages is a significant part of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Important documents to gather include:

  • Employment records
  • Financial records
  • Tax returns
  • Insurance policies

No piece of evidence is too small or insignificant. Try to gather all the records that you possibly can. Make sure to hold on to all documentation and evidence for the full duration of your wrongful death lawsuit.

Collect eyewitness contact information

Credible eyewitness accounts of what happened can have a meaningful impact on your wrongful death claim. At times, a person did not see the fatal accident take place but came onto the scene in the immediate aftermath of the incident. In such cases, he or she may still be able to provide valuable testimony regarding the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death.

The importance of eyewitness testimony should not be underestimated. If multiple witnesses attest to the same circumstance, this can go a long way in holding the responsible parties accountable for the victim’s death. Be sure to gather the contact information for all available witnesses.

Record your personal account of what happened

It can be emotionally taxing to recall the events that led to your family member’s tragic death. However, your personal account of what took place can have a significant effect on the legal process. As time goes by, your memory of how things unfolded may not be as clear.

It is wise to write down your account of what happened as soon as you reasonably can after your loved one has passed away. Be as thorough as possible; even small details can later prove helpful to your wrongful death case. Having a written record of events to refer to will also make explaining your position to a wrongful death lawyer easier.

Consult a New York wrongful death attorney

Wrongful death cases can be emotional, complicated, and time-sensitive. If you believe that your family member died due to another person’s negligence, there is no need to face this devastating situation alone. An experienced wrongful death attorney is the advocate your grieving family needs.

A knowledgeable lawyer can walk you through every step of the claims process. He or she can also ensure that your wrongful death claim is prepared according to New York state laws and time limits.

Having a well-practiced and understanding New York wrongful death lawyer on your side will give you confidence and peace of mind as you move forward with your claim. When you hire a knowledgeable attorney to handle your wrongful death lawsuit, he or she will do the legal legwork so that you can focus on getting your family through this.

Additional Actions an Attorney Will Take in Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

Your wrongful death attorney will work with you to gather the evidence proving that someone else’s actions caused the death of your family member. A thorough investigation into the events that led to the decedent’s death can help your attorney establish the certainties of the case. With convincing evidence in hand, he or she will then be able to move forward with various legal proceedings.

Initiating wrongful death settlement negotiations

Most wrongful death claims are settled with the at-fault party or their insurance company before a lawsuit is filed. Families often prefer to enter settlement negotiations before taking a wrongful death case to trial.

To begin negotiations, your wrongful death attorney will write a demand letter to the defendant and his or her insurance company. The letter may detail the circumstances of the death, name the party believed to have caused it, and explain how the evidence points to the case qualifying as wrongful death.

The demand will request compensation for all relevant losses allowed under New York state law, such as:

  • Loss of anticipated financial support: The surviving spouse and other family members who relied on the financial support of the deceased may be able to recover the lost income he or she provided.
  • Loss of the value of household services: You may now need to hire someone to take care of the household tasks that your family member has performed. You can request financial compensation for these costs.
  • Expenses associated with wrongful death: Sadly, a death generally results in a significant amount of expense. You may be eligible to recover compensation for medical expenses, medical bills, funeral costs, burial expenses, and other wrongful death damages.

No two wrongful death cases are the same. The general goal in pursuing a wrongful death claim, though, is to reach a settlement that adequately provides for your family’s immediate and long-term financial needs.

Your lawyer can help you evaluate all settlement offers and make any counteroffers as desired. If a fair settlement agreement cannot be reached, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit

If the defendant or insurer refuses to come to an amicable settlement agreement, your lawyer will file a complaint in civil court for wrongful death. The complaint will outline the details of the wrongful death suit.

The complaint will include the date and time of death, what caused it, and the amount of compensation sought. It will also review the established evidence and laws that apply to the case.

Conducting the litigation and discovery phase

The pre-trial phase of a wrongful death lawsuit includes the fact-finding or discovery period. This allows time for each side to collect and exchange information about the case.

To build a strong wrongful death case, your lawyer may take such steps as:

  • Requesting important documents: It is beneficial to see a copy of the defendant’s insurance policy and other financial documents. Such records will show how much potential compensation is available in the case.
  • Questioning the defendant in writing: Questions may be submitted to be answered in writing under oath.
  • Conducting a deposition: This is an in-person interview, given under oath, recorded, and possibly used as evidence in court.
  • Interviewing expert witnesses: Under certain circumstances, the testimony of an expert witness can be invaluable in successfully resolving a wrongful death lawsuit. Expert witnesses may include medical professionals or accident reconstruction specialists.

The purpose of the discovery phase is to firmly establish the facts of the wrongful death case, ensuring that there are no surprises at trial.

Taking your wrongful death case to trial

If all settlement negotiations fail, the wrongful death case will proceed to trial. In court, each side has the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and provide arguments. Additionally, each party may cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.

After the trial, the jury will deliberate and give their verdict. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may be able to appeal the decision to a higher court. Your wrongful death lawyers will discuss with you whether or not appealing the verdict would be advisable.

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney for Support

We understand that this can be an incredibly painful time for you and your family. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may be the last thing you think you can endure, but you can get the support you need to feel confident in seeking justice for your loved one’s loss.

The New York wrongful death attorneys at Hill & Moin can navigate you through this difficult chapter of your life. Our empathetic legal team is dedicated to defending the rights of New York accident and injury victims and their families. If we take your case, we will do all in our power to help your family recover emotionally and financially from your loss.

Contact a New York wrongful death lawyer today to learn about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ. We serve multiple areas in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Call Hill & Moin at (212) 668-6000 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. You can find out what our experienced attorneys can do for you.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

Understanding Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits: What You Need to Know

November 21st, 2023 by

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

One of the most difficult situations a person can face in life is the tragic death of a loved one. This can be especially challenging when the death was caused by someone else’s negligence and could have been avoided.

In addition to the deep emotional and familial loss, a tragic death often results in considerable financial strain as well. A wrongful death lawsuit may be one option to recover compensation for the damages caused, so this blog discusses some important details you need to know before deciding your next steps.

The wrongful death attorneys at Hill & Moin LLP are here to answer your questions and provide the information and guidance you need during these difficult moments. Our team is available 24/7 to offer the help you need – call us at (212) 668-6000 to schedule your free consultation with our legal team.

The 3 Types of Damages in NY Wrongful Death Lawsuits

When speaking about both wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, you will hear the term “damages” frequently. Put simply, damages are losses that have resulted from an injury or death where compensation is available.

Generally speaking, damages awarded to the surviving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit typically fall under one of 3 categories: economic, non-economic, or punitive.

Economic damages

Economic damages, as the name suggests, refer to financial losses due to a person’s death. In many wrongful death cases, a victim may have received medical treatment and care before death, resulting in medical bills and expenses. In addition to these medical expenses, compensation can also be awarded for funeral and burial expenses.

However, these initial and direct expenses do not tell the whole story. Especially when the victim was a main provider for the family, there is a much larger financial impact as well. That is why economic damages in a wrongful death claim often include compensation for lost financial support, such as loss of earnings, benefits, and inheritance.

Non-economic damages

Of course, a wrongful death results in much more than simply financial losses. There is often substantial emotional trauma suffered by the surviving family members.

In many states, surviving family members are able to recover compensation for non-economic damages, such as:

  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of guidance and advice
  • Loss of consortium of the spouse
  • Mental pain and suffering of the family members

In New York, however, compensation for pain and suffering is only available to the personal injury victims themselves before their death, not their family members. In other words, you cannot claim non-economic damages by means of a wrongful death claim.

As you can see, proving some damages may be less straightforward. Our wrongful death lawyers take the time to work closely with our clients to understand the damages caused after a wrongful death. Most times, this includes working with experts who can help calculate and prove the amount of damages in a wrongful death case.

Punitive damages

In addition to economic and non-economic damages, at times, punitive damages may be awarded in exceptional wrongful death cases in New York. As implied by the name, punitive damages are not there to compensate for a loss in particular but as additional punishment for the action.

Punitive damages are rare and are typically awarded when a defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional. In order for punitive damages to be awarded, it must be proven that the liable party acted with “conscious disregard or indifference to others’ safety, life or rights.”

The court will decide whether punitive damages are necessary, as well as the amount. Generally, factors such as the severity of the person’s actions or negligence, as well as the impact of the incident on the victim and his or her family, will be considered.

Filing and Recovering Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The way wrongful death suits are handled depends largely on the laws of the state where the victim was living at the time of his or her death. These laws vary greatly from state to state, making it especially helpful to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who is familiar with local laws and statutes.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Generally speaking, states fall into one of the following categories when it comes to filing wrongful death lawsuits:

  • A surviving family member
  • A personal representative
  • An executor

In New York, the personal representative of the estate needs to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While the personal representative is responsible for filing the lawsuit, he would not normally be a beneficiary of the settlement unless he was also an eligible family member.

Who can recover damages?

Legal actions filed in the case of a loved one’s death are generally separated into: survival actions and wrongful death actions. A survival action claims damages suffered by the victim prior to his or her death, both financial and emotional. Meanwhile, a wrongful death action is usually limited to seeking economic damages suffered by the surviving family members due to their loved one’s passing.

Compensation awarded for the survival action goes to the estate of the victim which will eventually be divided up according to the will.

According to New York Senate Section 4.1-1, if there is no will, the estate will be distributed in this order:

  • If a spouse and no children, the entire amount goes to the spouse
  • If a spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 and half of the remaining balance, with the children dividing the rest equally
  • If children and no spouse, the amount is divided equally among the children
  • If there are no children and no spouse, the entire amount goes to the parent(s)
  • If siblings and no spouse, parents, or children, the amount is divided equally among the siblings

At times, the estate will also be distributed to the grandparents or grandchildren if there are no closer living relatives.

Compensation awarded by means of a wrongful death claim, however, gets divided up according to who suffered the losses. In most cases, the spouse, children, or parents of the victim can recover compensation by means of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Your wrongful death attorney can help you better understand the options that may be available, depending on your case. It could be that a survival action, in addition to your wrongful death claim, will ensure that your family’s needs are fully met.

Call Hill & Moin LLP Today for the Legal Help You Need

It can be overwhelming and stressful to consider and initiate a wrongful death lawsuit while still grieving your loved one. If you think you have a potential wrongful death case, you do not need to handle this on your own.

At Hill & Moin LLP, NYC, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the support and guidance they need. Our team is available to listen to your story and answer your questions so you can decide on your next steps.

Contact us 24/7 at (212) 668-6000 to schedule your free consultation and learn about our Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ. A wrongful death claim may be the best option for you.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

The Role of a Wrongful Death Attorney

November 1st, 2023 by

If you know someone who has died as a result of someone else’s negligence, wrongful act, or misconduct, our hearts go out to you. When you have suffered such a tragic loss, you feel it deeply – especially when injustice robbed you of your loved one.

Who was to blame? Can you hold that person or entity responsible for what happened? Who can help you make the most of wrongful death lawsuits?

The wrongful death attorneys of Hill & Moin LLP, based in New York City, can do more than answer these questions. We are also prepared to give you legal advice you can afford while offering you the solutions you need.

Even if you are just a little bit curious as to whether retaining a wrongful death lawyer would be worth it in your case, we welcome your call. Hill & Moin’s compassionate representatives are standing by 24/7 – so feel free to call (212) 668-6000 anytime, day or night, to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.

Evaluating Your Situation to Get Started

Before legal action is set in motion, your wrongful death lawyer must first identify the party who is eligible to file the wrongful death lawsuit.

It’s possible that you, even as a surviving family member of the deceased, will not be eligible to file the wrongful death lawsuit in your name. This may not mean, however, that you will be barred from compensation.

The estate representative, named in the deceased’s will, may bring the wrongful death claim. By New York State law, only the spouse, children, parents, or parent’s children may otherwise file the lawsuit.

Yes, the jurisdiction of your case matters – and laws always change. Hill & Moin, though, has the resources and know-how to clarify your options for you.

Our New York wrongful death lawyers keep on top of the changing statutes and can let you know:

  • Whether you have a solid wrongful death claim
  • How much time you have to file your wrongful death lawsuit
  • Who in your family can bring the wrongful death claim
  • Who is truly liable for the wrongful death
  • What damages you may qualify to receive
  • How much compensation we have won for similar wrongful death cases previously

To collect all the information we need, our wrongful death attorneys may ask you detailed questions such as:

  • What was the cause of death?
  • Did your loved one pass right away, or did he or she suffer for some time after an accident?
  • Where did the accident take place?
  • Who do you think caused the wrongful death?
  • Could there be another causal factor that you are unaware of?
  • Who saw what happened?

It could be that some of the above questions don’t quite fit your situation. This is quite understandable. Wrongful death cases can arise from a variety of situations, including car accidents, slips and falls, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, use of defective products, and more.

No matter how your loved one came to pass, and whether or not you are sure you have a solid potential claim, come talk to the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Hill & Moin LLP. We can identify and narrow down the best possible options for you.

Working Hard on Your Behalf

Please be aware that it is incredibly difficult to represent a personal injury case – even what may seem like a straightforward wrongful death lawsuit – on your own. Deadlines need to be met. Extensive documentation must be prepared.

To meet these challenges, you can put our time and efforts to work for you. Experienced New York wrongful death lawyers, including those at Hill & Moin LLP, have what it takes to make the most of your wrongful death lawsuit, protect your rights, seek justice for your family, and take your case all the way to court if necessary.

No need to worry – despite any challenges or complications that you anticipate regarding your potential wrongful death claim, we can give you ways to tackle those obstacles.

When Hill & Moin LLP takes on your case, you can also trust us to tell you when to accept an agreement – and when to hold off on signing the settlement papers. To stay informed enough to identify fair compensation, it takes legal knowledge, experience, and skill. That’s why wrongful death lawyers are here to help.

The legal team at Hill & Moin has decades’ worth of know-how that we would like to use to help you come away with a fair amount and a more stable financial situation for your family.

Maximizing Your Wrongful Death Claim by Using Everything At Our Disposal

Together, we can consider who in your family may file a wrongful death claim, how extensive the financial repercussions of your loss have been, and even how much total amount of money you may be entitled to receive. It could be that you qualify to receive a much larger sum than you imagine now.

We know how to maximize your compensation – that’s what makes working with a wrongful death attorney especially worth it. Not only do we have the experience, but we also have the resources and contacts to prepare a solid case in your favor.

For one, wrongful death lawyers know who to call – take expert witnesses, for example. These could be:

  • Medical experts
  • Vocational experts
  • Engineering experts
  • Forensic experts
  • Financial experts

Whether your case goes all the way to trial or not, the testimony of doctors or nurses can be useful in establishing the medical facts of a wrongful death case. In the case of a tragic car accident, accident reconstructionists are the experts we could call upon to lend their expertise and prove your side of the story.

Your wrongful death lawyer will also be able to take care of gathering all evidence and relevant police reports while you are free to focus on your recovery and on your family’s well-being.

After all, you probably don’t have the energy or mental capacity at this time to handle such a weighty legal matter – so please just leave things to your attorney. This can mean a higher settlement than handling the legalities by yourself.

Addressing All the Complications of Determining Liability

Even the notion of filing a wrongful death lawsuit can feel overwhelming – even impossible. We at Hill & Moin understand such anxiety and reluctance, which is why our attorneys went into the legal profession in the first place – we want to help you and have the ability to lessen your burdens.

After we take on your case, the “pre-litigation” phase continues with us examining every factor of what happened and how your loved one came to pass away. Why? In order to determine liability.

Liability is the main factor that must be established by the evidence. Simply put, the liable party is responsible for your loved one’s death. In New York, this means that the same party is thus legally responsible for compensating you for the resulting financial damages.

The following steps must be taken in order to determine who is liable in your wrongful death case:

  1. Investigation: Gathering documents, interviewing witnesses, and consulting experts
  1. Review of laws and regulations: Your attorney will review the laws and regulations that apply to your case to determine which legal standards and duties may have been violated
  1. Identify the at-fault party: Your attorney will identify the party who is shown to be liable for the wrongful death; this could be an individual, a company, a healthcare provider, a driver, or any entity whose negligence or wrongful actions contributed to the death – maybe even multiple parties are at fault
  1. Establish wrongful conduct: To prove liability, your attorney must demonstrate that the at-fault party was negligent or engaged in wrongful conduct that directly led to the wrongful death; this typically involves showing that the liable party breached a duty of care owed to the deceased
  1. Find causation: It is crucial to establish a direct link between the at-fault party’s actions and the death; your attorney must prove that the negligent or wrongful conduct was a substantial factor in causing the death
  1. Calculate total damages: Your attorney will also work to establish the damages suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the wrongful death; in New York, wrongful death compensation is limited to economic losses such as medical expenses and funeral costs, so you cannot receive emotional damages such as pain and suffering

Clearly, determining liability in a wrongful death case can be complex. Each case is unique, and the specific steps to be taken until resolution may vary based on the situation and the laws of the jurisdiction where the case is filed.

Thus, such situations call for the assistance of an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can build a compelling case on your behalf based on the evidence and legal principles involved.

Could it be that multiple parties share liability in your case? Suppose, for instance, that someone passes away due to being severely injured by a defective product. In such a case, we must look at the designer, manufacturer, and distributor of that product in order to determine the liability of each party. It could be that all three share responsibility for the accident.

In any case, the evidence must show that each party you sue is indeed responsible for what happened.

Once liability has been established, we will know who to file a wrongful death lawsuit against. And so the litigation is finally set in motion.

Seeing a Case Through to Completion

A wrongful death lawsuit, like any legal claim, calls for extensive paperwork to be completed – and all on time. Your wrongful death lawyer can prepare and file the necessary legal documents before the statute of limitations, as set by New York State laws, runs out.

Next, the defense will have the chance to respond to the complaint, either admitting to or denying the allegations. They may also file motions to dismiss the case or seek to have certain allegations dismissed.

From there, both sides of the wrongful death case engage in what is called the “discovery” process, during which they exchange information, documents, and evidence relevant to the case. This phase helps to establish liability and damages further.

Then negotiations can finally begin between the suing and liable parties. The goal is to come to a settlement that both sides can agree on.

It may be possible to reach an agreement on a fair amount of compensation before going so far as a trial in civil court. In fact, this is rather common among civil claims, which include wrongful death cases.

On the other hand, if a settlement cannot be reached in our client’s favor, our wrongful death attorneys are prepared for the next step: going to trial.

Taking Your Case All the Way to Court

Perhaps the liable party is somewhat imposing – a widely acclaimed doctor who performed medical malpractice or a car manufacturer who produced a faulty part that caused a car accident. Regardless, experienced attorneys will not be intimidated to represent you at a civil trial.

Rather, even when a successful out-of-court settlement has been our expectation, you will find that we have prepared for the possibility of an eventual trial anyway.

We will not be caught off guard by the change in the situation. At Hill & Moin, our team members will be ready to evaluate the situation when it comes along, make our recommendation to you, and then let you make the final decision regarding going to trial.

Either way, we will make our recommendation out of care for your best interests. Depending on your situation, you could be awarded a much more fair settlement by the judge or jury. However, there are times when settling out of court is more advantageous – to avoid high litigation costs, for instance.

When a wrongful death lawsuit does go to court, what happens? During the trial, both sides present evidence and arguments to prove or disprove liability and damages.

Your wrongful death lawyer can help show the judge and jury how the evidence backing up your wrongful death claim shows that the responsible party allowed a dangerous condition to exist or develop, or performed negligence in some other way, which led to your loved one’s death.

Finally, a judge or jury will make a determination and issue a verdict. If the defendant is found liable for the wrongful death, then compensation will be awarded to the surviving family members.

As you can see, wrongful death attorneys are the strong advocates you need at a hard time like this. If we take on your case, we work hard to protect your rights and best interests. We want to achieve the ideal outcome for you.

Giving You the Options You Need

“Free advice” is perhaps not as fitting a term as “invaluable advice.” Either way, that’s what you will find at Hill & Moin LLP serving New York.

We offer free consultations to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to get quality legal counsel and guidance. That’s also why we take all cases – including wrongful death claims – on a contingency basis. This means we only get paid when you get compensated.

After all, we don’t want to add to your burdens, whether financial or emotional. Rather, we want to empower you with the options to see you get both justice and compensation – along with peace of mind.

Thus, even if your case does not fall under our jurisdiction, Hill & Moin still has your back. We have a wide network of trusted attorneys and law firms who we can recommend to take on your case when we can’t.

Why is this important? Because we want the best for you. You deserve to have your concerns addressed, needs justified, and compensation maximized.

If we do direct you to another firm, please be assured that we would not make such a recommendation unless we are positive that the law firm we direct you to can serve you as well as our law firm would – with compassion and skill at winning large judgments and settlements for clients.

Finding Compassion and Care for Your Needs

Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is not only crucial in resolving the financial repercussions of your loss – it also brings you peace of mind.

Let your wrongful death lawyer navigate the entire legal process and protect your rights while you can focus on yourself and on your family. That is certainly what Hill & Moin wants for you.

With attorneys who have become known for making clients feel like they have a “lawyer in the family,” why wouldn’t you want to come speak to Hill & Moin’s attorneys? We have the empathy – in addition to decades of experience and knowledge – to handle your wrongful death case with care and compassion.

Come talk to us to learn whether the Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ we can offer suit your and your family’s situation. Representatives of our New York City team are standing by 24/7 to take your call, so dial (212) 668-6000 anytime to get a head start on your potential legal case.

Don’t wonder about your rights!

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!