Bronx Wrongful Death Lawyer
Bronx families cope with unimaginable pain when they suddenly lose a loved one. The emotional trauma of losing a child, a spouse, a parent, or another family member is layered with financial stress from medical costs and a potential loss of income or financial support. Facing the tragic loss of a family member is likely one of the most difficult experiences a person might have to go through in life. Knowing your loss could have been prevented if not for someone else’s negligence or intentionally harmful actions makes matters even worse.
New York law permits eligible surviving family members to seek compensation for damages caused by a tragic death by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. No amount of compensation can ever replace a loved one who died in a tragic accident, nor can it heal a family’s pain. Yet, money can help pay for the costs associated with losing a family member, relieving the unexpected financial burden and helping a family move forward.
If you live in the Bronx and have lost a loved one because of another party’s reckless, negligent, or purposeful actions, the compassionate wrongful death lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, are here to help you during this difficult time. Contact our Bronx personal injury lawyers for a free case evaluation with our personal injury lawyers to discuss the events that led to the death of your family member.
What Is Wrongful Death in New York?
A wrongful death is a death caused by a wrongful act, failure to act, or negligence of another person or entity. Under New York law, a personal representative of the estate of the person who died obtains the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit whenever the deceased would have been entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault parties, had he or she lived. In other words, think of a wrongful death lawsuit as a personal injury lawsuit in which a representative of the estate of the deceased person takes over that person’s legal rights to sue for certain damages related to the injuries that caused the death.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Results in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The skilled legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has advocated for injured clients and the families of Bronx residents tragically killed in accidents for more than four decades. Our firm’s dedication to professional excellence, justice, case preparation, and client service has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in compensation for the harm our clients have suffered in a wide variety of tragic accidents and incidents.
Our recent wrongful death case results include:
- $299,000 settlement for a client’s estate after he died as a result of a pedestrian accident
- $2.4 million for a widow and her four-year-old son after her husband was killed when a semi-truck crashed into a church van in which he was riding to attend an upstate church function
- $3.25 million settlement for the estate of a 25-year-old student who died from a fire when she couldn’t escape from her sixth floor apartment
- $5 million verdict after a nursing home denied a resident needed medical care, resulting in his death
- $5.7 million for an eight-year-old girl who was killed by a runaway school bus who ran her down
The cases above are only examples and do not guarantee a particular financial outcome for your wrongful death lawsuit. Each case has distinctive circumstances that affect the value of a claim. However, every client of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can rest assured that our experienced and diligent wrongful death lawyers will work tirelessly to uncover the facts relevant to the death of their loved one and to build the strongest case possible against those who caused their loss.
“My legal team at Jacoby & Meyers worked hard to get me a fair settlement, to them I just want to send my heartfelt thanks for all of their support and hard work. Their knowledge and guidance was very helpful. We greatly appreciate all the time and direction that was dedicated to my case. Thank you!” -H.B.
Many Different Scenarios Can Lead to a Wrongful Death
Unfortunately, a wrongful death caused by a negligent party might occur anywhere at any time. Some of the most common scenarios include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Traffic crashes are likely the most common cause of wrongful death in the country. Drivers and passengers in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles risk death when involved in severe traffic accidents. The New York State Department of Health estimates that at least 1,100 people die in traffic accidents each year on New York roads and highways, including those in the Bronx. Traffic collisions occur for a variety of reasons, but almost all of them share a common trait: they are preventable.
Reckless motorists who don’t follow the rules of the road, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drive while fatigued, drive aggressively, or get distracted by cell phones, put everyone on the road at risk for fatal accidents and face potential legal liability in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Each year hundreds of New Yorkers suffer fatal injuries in pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents. Bronx residents who get around by biking, running, or walking, do not have the protection afforded by a motor vehicle when a reckless and negligent driver plows into them. Few pedestrians and cyclists are fortunate enough to walk away from an accident or knockdown. Most face a high risk of suffering fatal injuries.
Most of these types of accidents result from negligent drivers in cars and trucks. Those who drive on the road have a duty of care to pedestrians and cyclists, especially because these groups often have the right of way. Drivers who cause fatal injuries to a cyclist or pedestrian risk financial liability in a New York court.
Most workers spend at least eight hours per day on-the-job, making it common for wrongful deaths to occur in the workplace. According to the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), more than 300 workplace fatalities occurred in New York in 2017.
Approximately one-third of those workplace fatalities were a result of falls and slip-or-trip accidents; 53 injuries were a result of workplace violence; and 78 fatalities were a result of transportation related accidents. Other fatalities were caused by dangerous fires or explosions, contact with heavy machinery, and exposure to harmful or toxic substances.
After losing a loved one while they are working, you need a wrongful death attorney who has significant experience with workers’ compensation claims. Wrongful death cases at the workplace involve complicated legal considerations that implicate property owners, business owners, employers, contractors, and many other third parties. A qualified attorney knows how to tease out the most important factors and parties involved to identify who has liability.
The sudden and tragic death of a loved one devastates families, but when death results from an act of medical malpractice, it can make the pain even worse. We go to medical facilities and practitioners to fix, cure, or diagnose our medical ailments, not to make them worse.
We put trust in doctors, nurses, and hospitals to uphold their legal obligations to provide a certain standard of care. When medical negligence, medical error, or intentional harm during care or treatment results in death to a patient, it can turn our beliefs about medical practice on end. Many different types of actions or failures to take action can fall under the broad category of medical malpractice.
Some examples that can and sometimes do lead to death include:
- Failure to diagnose a terminal illness
- Misdiagnoses of illness
- Wrong site surgeries
- Unnecessary surgeries
- Surgical errors, including leaving foreign objects in the body
- Failure to take a complete patient history
- Failure to provide proper aftercare
- Medication errors including the wrong medicine or wrong dosage
- Improper use of medical equipment
We have only covered some common wrongful death scenarios above. Over our years of practice, we have represented clients who lost loved ones to a wide variety of additional tragedies as well, including boating accidents, aviation accidents, subway accidents, swimming pool accidents, domestic abuse, child abuse, and more. No matter what kind of accident or incident took the life of your loved one, Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help.
Eligible Family Members in New York Wrongful Death Suits
If your loved one would have been eligible to file a lawsuit had he or she survived the event that led to death, New York law allows you to have a personal representative of the estate of the deceased file a lawsuit on your behalf. The representative must file the lawsuit within New York’s two-year statute of limitations.
If the representative prevails in the lawsuit, the settlement money or court-awarded damages will go to the estate of the deceased. New York’s intestate laws dictate how the estate will be distributed among eligible family members. First, damages will go to eligible survivors based on their proportion of quantifiable losses. Parents of the deceased only share damages with a spouse when no children or grandchildren exist.
The order of priority follows:
- A spouse receives the entire estate when no children exist.
- When both a spouse and children exist, the spouse receives $50,000 and half of the remaining estate. The other half gets split equally among children of the same generation.
- When no spouse exists, surviving children receive the entire estate divided equally among them.
- Surviving parents receive the entire estate when no children or spouses exist.
- Siblings of the deceased must split the estate equally when no surviving spouse, children, or parents exist.
Types of Damages in Bronx Wrongful Death Lawsuits
New York courts stand out from the majority of other states to the extent that they don’t allow family members to receive compensation for their so-called “non-economic” losses related to the death of their loved one, such as mental anguish, loss of companionship of a spouse, or loss of parental guidance and support for a child. Instead, the representative of the estate may only seek for pecuniary damages in a New York wrongful death lawsuit. Pecuniary damages are tangible damages that can be quantified.
Examples of pecuniary damages a court may award to your loved one’s estate include:
- Medical expenses related to the injuries of the deceased before death, including ambulance and emergency services, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic imaging, nursing services, and medication
- Lost wages and benefits of the deceased until the time of death
- Expenses for a visitation or wake, and funeral or memorial service
- Cost of cremation and/or burial
- Lost inheritance for children
- Value of financial support and services provided by the deceased before their death
- Pain and suffering of the deceased until the time of death
- Mental anguish of the deceased until the time of death
- Other non-economic costs that apply to the deceased before death
Bronx Wrongful Death FAQ
Losing a loved one leaves a gaping hole in your life. If that tragic loss occurred because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful conduct, then you may have grounds for making a wrongful death claim. In this blog post, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from grieving spouses and families about their rights in the wake of the preventable death of a loved one.
Contact our experienced Bronx wrongful death injury attorneys today to discuss specific questions related to the loss of your loved one.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action, authorized by statute, seeking financial compensation for harm inflicted on a deceased person’s spouse and/or family by a death resulting from someone else’s wrongful actions. In New York, a wrongful death claim often gets filed in-tandem with a survival action, which is a lawsuit to recover compensation for harm caused to a deceased person before that person’s death.
Unlike laws in some states, New York law provides that only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate (the body of assets, liabilities, and legal rights that a deceased person leaves behind) can file a wrongful death or survival action.
Money damages recovered through a wrongful death action are paid directly to the deceased person’s estate beneficiaries in an order of priority dictated by New York laws governing the distribution of property when someone dies without a will. These funds do not pass through the deceased person’s estate. In contrast, money damages recovered through a survival action gets paid to the estate and are thus potentially subject to claims by the deceased person’s creditors and to the terms of the deceased person’s will.
What compensation can I receive through a wrongful death claim?
Under New York law, the beneficiaries in a Bronx wrongful death claim can recover damages for their pecuniary injuries. A pecuniary injury is a loss of the expected financial value of contributions the deceased would have made.
Pecuniary injuries generally include:
- Loss of financial support that the deceased would have been provided;
- Loss of the financial value of services and guidance that the deceased would have provided, such as childcare, keeping house, and providing advice and counsel;
- Loss of possible inheritance the deceased would have received;
- Reasonable expenses of medical care the deceased received for injuries that resulted in death;
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses; and
- When appropriate, punitive damages aimed at punishing and deterring the wrongful conduct that resulted in death.
New York law does not allow beneficiaries in a wrongful death lawsuit to recover their own non-pecuniary (or non-economic) damages, such as their pain and resulting from the death. This makes New York different from many other states that do allow for these damages.
Through a survival action that a personal representative of the deceased can also frequently file in connection with someone’s untimely death, other damages recoverable may further include:
- Expenses not covered above that the deceased person incurred before dying in connection with the injuries that ultimately caused death; and
- Compensation for the deceased person’s pain and suffering before dying from those injuries.
No lawyer can guarantee that taking legal action in connection with a wrongful death will result in recovery of all (or any) of these categories of damages. The combined amount of damages in a Bronx wrongful death/survival action can vary widely from case-to-case, depending upon the circumstances of the death and the age, state of health, income, and family role of the deceased (among other factors). Working with an experienced Bronx wrongful death lawyer is the most reliable way to maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you and your family deserve after a tragic loss.
So, if our family’s loved one did not die immediately, but died from injuries or complications from those injuries later on, we can still file a wrongful death claim?
Yes, that’s right. This is also where the survival action described above comes into play. In the case of a death that followed some time after suffering injuries and/or injury-related health complications, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file both a wrongful death action seeking compensation for the harm done by the death itself, and a survival action for the harm the deceased person suffered before dying. For example, burn victims suffer terribly and have an extremely high risk of complications related to their injuries that can ultimately lead to death.
An experienced Bronx wrongful death/survival lawsuit attorney can advise you about your family’s rights in this tragic situation.
Who decides whether to accept a settlement of a wrongful death claim?
Filing, pursuing, and resolving a wrongful death (and/or survival) action can sometimes cause tension and disagreement among the family members who stand to benefit from it. This can put unwelcome pressure on the personal representative of the estate who files the claim(s) on behalf of those beneficiaries and the deceased person’s estate.
In New York, a personal representative who believes it prudent to accept a settlement offer in a wrongful death action applies to a court for approval of the settlement (or compromise). The court must evaluate the settlement and decide whether to approve or disapprove it.
What if my loved one had, before dying, already filed a personal injury claim related to the injuries that later proved fatal?
If your loved one had already filed a personal injury lawsuit for damages before dying, but the lawsuit had not concluded, the personal representative may consolidate that lawsuit with a wrongful death action. If, however, the lawsuit your loved one filed had already concluded—such as through a settlement or a jury verdict—before your loved one passed away, then the personal representative may not pursue a claim, because the legal liability of the at-fault parties has already been resolved.
This can represent a somewhat complicated legal situation, however. Always contact an experienced wrongful death injury attorney after a loved one’s untimely, preventable death, to explore your family’s legal rights.
What are the time limits on filing a wrongful death claim?
New York law generally establishes a two-year time limit on filing wrongful death claims, measured from the date of death, and a three-year time limit from the date of injury for a survival action. However, a variety of sometimes-complicated factors can lengthen or shorten those time periods, so families should consult our experienced Bronx wrongful death injury attorneys as soon as possible after a death to help ensure they do not miss any important deadlines and that the attorney has maximum opportunity to gather and evaluate important evidence.
What impact do criminal charges against the at-fault party have on a wrongful death claim?
A death caused by someone else’s wrongful actions almost always merits an investigation by law enforcement to determine if the wrongdoer violated a criminal law.
How law enforcement answers that question, and what prosecutors decide to do in the wake of that determination, can affect the timing, strength, and outcome of a wrongful death claim.
- Timing. The filing of criminal charges against a wrongdoer extends the time period for filing a wrongful death claim to one year from the termination of the criminal action. The time limit for filing a wrongful death claim does not get extended for the period of any law enforcement investigation, however, so in some cases a wrongful death action must move forward before police or prosecutors have determined whether or how to proceed with criminal charges.
- Strength. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a criminal conviction of the wrongdoer can make it easier to prove liability for a wrongful death. Conversely, the acquittal of the wrongdoer of criminal charges may (but does not necessarily) make a wrongful death claim harder to prove.
- Outcome. Criminal defendants with the means to retain a criminal defense attorney may spend lots of money defending themselves against criminal charges. The cost of that fight can deplete the amount of money available to pay damages for a wrongful death. Also, the outcome of criminal charges may change the insurance coverage available to pay compensation to the victim’s family. For instance, some insurance policies may exclude criminal conduct from liability coverage.
Bronx lawyers for families of deceased victims must evaluate all of the potential impacts of a criminal case in advising clients of when and how to pursue a wrongful death claim. These complicated questions serve to highlight why it is so important to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney to evaluate your family’s rights.
How long does it take to resolve a wrongful death claim?
It depends on a wide variety of factors, many of which are out of your control. Some wrongful death claims may resolve quickly. Others may take longer.
Here are some of the circumstances that can influence the duration of a Bronx wrongful death case:
- Criminal actions. As discussed above, the filing (but not investigation) of criminal charges can affect an experienced Bronx wrongful death attorney’s assessment of when to pursue a wrongful death claim.
- Your attorney’s own investigation. Your attorney may want, or need, to conduct an independent investigation of the facts and circumstances of your loved one’s death, which can affect the timing of a lawsuit.
- Pending litigation. As we noted above, the pendency of an existing personal injury lawsuit can influence the speed at which a wrongful death claim gets resolved.
- The amount of money in dispute. As a general rule, the greater the amount of money in dispute in a wrongful death claim, the longer it can take to resolve; unless, that is, the amount of damages so far exceeds the financial resources available to pay them that the legally liable party throws in the towel immediately (which sometimes happens).
- The number of legally liable parties. Another general rule: the more legally-liable parties, the better a family’s chances of recovering maximum compensation, but also, the longer it may take to achieve that outcome because added parties mean added complication.
- The parties’ willingness to negotiate. Wrongful death lawsuits tend to resolve faster when all of the parties agree to explore a settlement in good faith. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Each party has legal and personal interests that can affect whether they come to the table or insist on digging in for a long, drawn-out fight.
Our loved one died under tragic, preventable circumstances. What should we do now to protect our rights?
As lawyers who have served tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut families for decades, and as parents and children ourselves, we understand and empathize with the immense difficulty of losing a loved one before their time. We also appreciate that hiring a lawyer can feel like the furthest thing from your mind while you cope with an unexpected loss. Take the steps below if you can, but take care of yourselves and your loved ones first.
Keep everything, for now. The death of a loved one can come as a shock. Grieving family members may not have any idea how or why it happened, or what factors in their loved one’s life may have led to it. For that reason, we always encourage families not to purge any of their loved one’s belongings—especially wrecked vehicles, medications, online/social media accounts, documents, and unopened mail—until they have first consulted our experienced Bronx wrongful death injury attorneys. We appreciate how a loved one’s belongings can evoke painful memories, but those same belongings may also hold the key to holding someone financially (and even criminally) accountable for your loved one’s death.
Follow procedure, but also exercise caution, with insurance companies. If your loved one had life insurance or other insurance coverage that may apply to your circumstances, you may have deadlines for notifying the insurance carrier. Be sure to follow them, and seek legal help if you have questions about what you need to do.
At the same time, be careful. Never say anything to any insurance representative that suggests your loved one bore the blame for causing the accident or incident that led to fatal injuries. Likewise, never get into an extended conversation with someone else’s insurance company about the facts and circumstances of your loved one’s death. Refer any insurance company to your attorney.
Contact an experienced Bronx wrongful death attorney at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. A loved one’s tragic passing because of someone else’s wrongful actions creates important legal rights. Trust our compassionate Bronx wrongful death attorneys to evaluate and pursue those rights on your behalf.
Contact a Bronx Wrongful Death Attorney When You Lose a Loved One
Wrongful death claims are exceptionally complicated compared to other types of personal injury cases. They require the expertise of a skilled wrongful death lawyer. If you have lost a loved one as a result of another party’s negligence or intentional harm, you and your family deserve compensation for losses you must cope with as a result of your loss.
Contact one of our seasoned and compassionate Bronx wrongful death lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, at (718) 294-0813, online, or stop by our Bronx office at 656 Fordham Road for a free case evaluation to determine your eligibility for compensation and the best course of action for you and other surviving family members.
We are empathetic to the fact that you and your family are going through a massively challenging time and we are here to help you with the bothersome details of your wrongful death suit as you cope with your loss, try to put your life back together, and move forward in a healthy way. We have the resources and experience to investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and to advocate for you, so we can hold those who caused your loss accountable.
We handle personal injury cases, including wrongful death cases, on contingency. This means you don’t pay attorney fees up-front; instead, we deduct our attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you in the form of a settlement or court verdict in your favor.