Perhaps even more devastating than suffering any injury to one’s own person is losing a loved one following a catastrophic incident, such as a car accident or medical negligence. When a serious and fatal incident occurs, surviving family members are often at a loss of what to do next. While thinking about filing a legal action can be overwhelming, especially in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s passing, bringing forth a wrongful death claim may be the only way to recover the compensation that you deserve. However, before you file a wrongful death claim, it’s best to consult with an attorney – wrongful death claims are complex, and a plaintiff must prove various elements in order to recover damages. Here’s what you should know about the elements of a wrongful death claim and how to prove wrongful death in New York–
Elements Of A Wrongful Death Claim
- The death of another person occurs;
- The death was caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant;
- The decedent would have maintained a cause of action for a personal injury suit against the defendant had death not occurred;
- At least one person survives the decedent who has suffered losses as a result of the death; and
- Damages have been suffered that the estate can recover.
A more concrete and succinct way of saying it is that the elements of a wrongful death claim mirror those of a traditional personal injury claim and include proving that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty of care via a neglectful or wrongful act, the breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of the decedent’s death, and the damages have been suffered by the estate or surviving family members as a direct result of death.
Supporting Evidence For Proving Wrongful Death
Perhaps the most complex aspect of a wrongful death action, and the element that is most difficult to prove, is that the death would not have occurred but for the wrongful or neglectful act of the defendant. Examples of wrongful or neglectful actions that can lead to wrongful death might include drunk or distracted driving, failing to repair a hazardous condition on a property, medical malpractice, manufacturing a defective product, and more.
In order to prove the four elements of a wrongful death suit, a plaintiff must submit various evidence types. Types of evidence that can be used to prove the defendant’s negligence, as well as causation and damages, include:
- Eyewitnesses’ statements;
- Testimony of experts;
- Police reports;
- Photographs of the accident scene;
- Medical reports;
- Video footage of the accident; and
- Logs and records (i.e. truck driver’s logs, product testing logs, etc.).
Types of evidence used to prove damages might include tax or financial statements, medical bills, and personal testimony. Our law firm can help you to understand other types of evidence that can be used depending on the nature of your case and the cause of death.
Statute Of Limitations For New York Wrongful Death Actions
In order to bring forth a wrongful death claim in New York, you must file your claim within the required amount of time. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is two years in New York. Failing to file your lawsuit within two years of the date of your loved one’s death is a bar to recovery, and is one of the key reasons that you should meet with a lawyer as soon as possible after the wrongful death of a loved one.
Reach Out To Our New York Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
Proving the wrongful death of a family member who has died in a serious accident caused by another’s fault can be challenging for multiple reasons. At the law offices of Powers & Santola, LLP, we know that you may be struggling to grasp the reality of life without your partner, parent, child, or other loved one, and that filing a wrongful death claim can feel overwhelming, and perhaps even unnecessary. When you call our New York wrongful death lawyers, we will work hard to help you build your case, prove the elements of wrongful death, and recover the compensation that you deserve. For your free consultation, please reach out to our lawyers by phone or online today. We work on a contingency fee basis and are available to meet with you at your convenience.