A wrongful death is defined as a fatality that occurs as a result of negligence or wrongdoing. Such a death can serve as the basis for civil action for damages on behalf of the deceased victim’s family. A wrongful death claim is not a criminal proceeding. For example, in a criminal proceeding, a defendant is found “guilty” or “not guilty” of murder. A wrongful death case is a civil proceeding where a jury determines whether the defendant is “liable” for the victim’s death.
The immediate family members of the deceased victim may file a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. The types of damages that may be available in a wrongful death lawsuit include medical and funeral expenses, loss of the victim’s expected earnings, loss of benefits (pension, medical coverage), loss of inheritance, damages for mental anguish, loss of companionship. Sometimes, a court may also award punitive damages to victims. This is especially true in cases where the court wishes to make an example of the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
A judge or jury will consider many factors before deciding the damages in a wrongful death case. Some of those factors include the earning history of the deceased individual, his or her health and character. The judge or jury will also take into account whether the deceased victim was the sole or primary wage earner in the family. In other words, they will assess the financial impact of the death on the family before determining the damages.
Determining fault and liability in wrongful death cases can be tricky and complex. If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, we fully understand the emotional and financial burdens you are facing. Our experienced New York personal injury lawyers will assist you through this difficult time and work to promptly secure just compensation for the tremendous loss that you and your family have suffered. Call the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU to examine your legal rights and options.
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