Like other cities around the country, Syracuse has seen its violent crime rate spike over the past few years. In 2020, murder rates jumped by over 50% compared to 2019, and they remain uncomfortably high. In 2022, shootings in Syracuse have increased by 23% and experts are not sure why.
Many people are unaware that they might bring a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of a family member. Although most of these lawsuits are based on accidental deaths, it’s also possible to sue for an intentional death. At Powers & Santola, LLP, we have helped grieving families put the pieces back together by filing a wrongful death claim against anyone responsible for their loss. Contact us to learn more.
Suing for a Wrongful Death
If your loved one died in an attack, you could potentially sue several different parties. Let’s look at a couple.
Your Loved One’s Attacker
Whoever killed your loved one is an obvious defendant. For example, someone might have gotten into a fight with your loved one and struck him in the face. He fell back and broke his neck, dying instantly. Or someone intentionally shot or stabbed your loved one in a robbery or revenge attack.
New York law allows family members to sue the criminal in these situations. However, we always need to analyze whether this person has the funds to pay a settlement. Wrongful death cases are civil suits for money damages. That’s all a court can award if you win. Some defendants are “judgment proof,” meaning they have no money or assets to pay a settlement. So, although you can sue, recovering any compensation will be a challenge.
Negligent Property Owners
In some cases, you can also sue a business or other property owner for negligent security. Imagine your loved one was attacked in a hotel that didn’t have a front desk person or in an apartment building that lacked locks on the doors. These are obvious examples of inadequate security, and the property owner might be liable under New York law for the death.
Similar situations arise when someone is attacked at a mall, restaurant, movie theater, or school. The question in these cases is whether the property owner used sufficient security measures based on the history and likelihood of crime.
If possible, adding a property owner as a defendant increases the odds of financial recovery. Businesses must carry liability insurance to cover accidents, and these policies can pay out a wrongful death claim.
Who You Can’t Sue
It is very difficult if not impossible to sue emergency medical personnel or police for a loved one’s death unless they were directly responsible. For example, an ambulance might come too late to help your loved one who was stabbed in a park. Or police might have let a violent suspect go from custody, only to have him turn around and kill your loved one. In most cases, the law shields public officials from liability.
Contact Our Syracuse Wrongful Death Attorney for More Information
Knowing a loved one died in an attack is devastating. But a wrongful death claim is one way to take control of the situation and begin taking positive steps toward the future. Please contact Powers & Santola today to learn more.