Going through the horrific experience of losing a loved one in an accident or as a result of another party’s reckless or harmful actions can be the most devastating experience of a person’s life.
Although it can extremely difficult to think about the possibility of moving forward with a lawsuit while you are grieving the death of a loved one, our Albany wrongful death attorneys know that a wrongful death claim can be essential to providing you with the compensation you need during this difficult time while allowing you to have some closure by holding the liable party or parties accountable.
Our firm can answer all of your questions about wrongful death lawsuits in Upstate New York, but in the meantime, the following are some little-known or surprising facts about New York wrongful death claims.
Wrongful Death Claims Can Arise Out of Negligent Acts or Omissions or Intentional Acts
A wrongful death lawsuit in New York can arise out of negligence (i.e., when someone did not mean to cause any harm but did cause an injury as a result of their own careless actions or omission) or out of an intentional act (i.e., when someone intends to cause deadly harm and does cause a deadly injury).
Indeed, New York’s wrongful death law defines wrongful death as a death that results from “a wrongful act, neglect or default.”
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Are Closely Related to Personal Injury Lawsuits
While many people may not realize it, wrongful death claims are closely related to personal injury lawsuits. Whereas a personal injury lawsuit allows an injured person to file a claim in order to seek compensation from an at-fault party for his or her injuries, wrongful death law recognizes that the injured person is not alive to file a claim and therefore allows another party to stand in the shoes of the deceased to file that claim.
Although personal injury and wrongful death claims have their own statutes of limitations and other distinctive aspects, both types of claims arise out of physical harm to another person.
Family Members Are Not Usually Eligible to Be the Ones to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under New York wrongful death law, the personal representative of the deceased must be the party who actually files a wrongful death lawsuit. Although the personal representative may be a surviving spouse or adult child in some circumstances, this is not always the case.
To be clear, surviving family members of the deceased are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit themselves based on their familial relationship to the deceased, which is different from how wrongful death law works in a number of other states.
Surviving Family Members Can Obtain Damages When a Personal Representative Files a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
While New York does not allow surviving family members to file personal injury lawsuits unless one of them is also the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, New York wrongful death law does allow surviving family members to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
To be sure, when the personal representative of the estate files a lawsuit and seeks damages, that party is typically seeking damages on behalf of the surviving family members.
Most Wrongful Death Claims Have a Two-Year Statute of Limitations, But the Time Window May Be Shorter or Longer Depending Upon the Facts of the Case
The general statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is typically two years from the date of the deceased’s death, but depending upon the facts of the case, the time window for filing might actually be shorter or slightly longer.
In situations where there is also a pending criminal case, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of the close of the criminal case. For wrongful death claims resulting from medical malpractice, you have two years and six months from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Albany
If you recently lost a loved one in an accident or as a result of another party’s negligent or intentional act or omission, you could be eligible to obtain compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Since the personal representative of the deceased’s estate will need to file a wrongful death claim within a particular time window, it is critical to seek advice from an Albany wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your options for seeking financial compensation and getting a wrongful death lawsuit filed.
Since you only have a short time window in which to ensure that the lawsuit has been filed, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP for more information about how we can assist you with your wrongful death claim.