After a loved one dies in a car crash or another accident in the Syracuse or Rochester areas, you are likely to be filled with grief and other upsetting emotions. However, you may also face practical considerations, such as how you will afford your mortgage payments without the victim’s income, how you will handle household chores, how you will pay for a proper funeral and burial, and how you will pay for enormous medical bills. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that may be brought to recover damages from a person or entity responsible for your loved one's death. If you need to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, the Syracuse wrongful death lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to help.Wrongful Death Claims Under New York Law
To show wrongful death in New York, you will need to show that a death was caused by the defendant's wrongful or negligent actions, the decedent would have been able to sue for personal injury damages had they not died, the decedent was survived by people who suffered a loss due to their death, and there were actual damages that are recoverable by the estate. For example, if your spouse was killed in a truck accident caused by an intoxicated truck driver, it is likely that you have a claim for wrongful death. Similarly, if your child was killed in a fall while working at a construction job one summer, you might have a wrongful death claim.
However, sometimes both the decedent and the defendant share some blame for the accident that killed the decedent. In New York, a defendant may raise comparative negligence when confronted with a wrongful death lawsuit. The jury will determine the extent to which each party was at fault. The total damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to the decedent. A wrongful death attorney in the Syracuse area can try to make sure that this percentage is limited to the extent possible.
In New York, the personal representative of the decedent's estate is responsible for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes a personal representative has been selected by the decedent as part of estate planning, but in other cases, the judge appoints a representative. In New York, a family member cannot sue for wrongful death unless they are also the estate's personal representative.
Damages that you may be able to recover include funeral expenses, burial costs, hospital bills, emergency care, lost wages, the value of services and support that the decedent gave to their family, the value of parental services to surviving children, lost inheritance, the lost value of household services performed by the decedent if they were a child, and any conscious pain and suffering that the decedent suffered because of the injury before they died. You can also recover interest on the damages. Unlike in some other states, you cannot recover your own pain and suffering or mental anguish damages when filing a wrongful death claim in New York.
The civil case is separate and distinct from any criminal charges that may be filed against the defendant. In other words, your Syracuse wrongful death attorney will need to prove your own case, regardless of the outcome of a criminal homicide charge. For example, if a subcontractor was drunk and acted in an egregiously reckless manner on site, thereby killing your spouse who worked for a different contractor on the construction site, and the subcontractor was charged with involuntary manslaughter, this would be a separate case from your wrongful death lawsuit.
Criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard, whereas a civil personal injury case must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence basically means that it is more likely than not that your version of what happened is true. You can recover wrongful death damages even if the defendant was acquitted of criminal charges or never charged at all.Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Syracuse or Surrounding Areas
If you lose a loved one as a result of someone else's negligent or wrongful actions, our law firm may be able to help. We can represent a family following a motor vehicle collision, an incident of medical malpractice, a construction accident, or another devastating event in Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, and Lyons, among other areas of Upstate New York. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.