East Meadow Wrongful Death Attorney
There are few things more shocking and devastating than the unexpected death of a family member or friend. The survivors are left dealing with the emotional and financial void the loss of the loved one leaves in their life. The law does, however, protect those who suffer this kind of unthinkable loss: If the victim was killed because of the negligent or intentional act of another party, the survivors are entitled to recovery for their suffering. Seeking recovery can be stressful and confusing, but an East Meadow wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate this complicated process and advocate on your behalf.
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in or around East Meadow, NY, contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP for assistance. Our firm has a long history of assisting family and friends who have lost loved ones to secure the recovery they deserve.
The lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP have a history of securing our East Meadow clients the results they deserve for wrongful death actions in New York, including:
- $5.7 million bus crash award: A jury awarded the parents and brother of an eight-year-old victim $5.7 million after the child was rundown by an out of control and unattended school bus. The child was pinned under one of the bus wheels and died. The bus was let loose when a child broke into the bus through an unlocked emergency exit door. The bus company was found negligent because the bus driver did not turn the wheels to the curb when parking, which would have prevented the bus from escaping.
- $3.25 million settlement after a fire: A 25-year-old student was burned to death after she could not escape her apartment during a fire. The stairwell of the building did not have fire doors and was painted with flammable paint. The victim suffered extreme burns eventually died from her injuries. The defendant settled for $3,250,000.
- $2.4 million wrongful death settlement: A tractor-trailer crashed into a church van and a passenger of the van was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The estate settled with the tractor-trailer driver and van driver for $2,400,000 on behalf of the victim’s wife and 4-year-old son.
While the above results are just examples of the types of verdicts the Jacoby & Meyers LLP team secures for clients, there is never a guarantee of a specific recovery. Our associates work with each client to understand the unique facts of their case and to develop a strategy to secure the recovery the client deserves.
Table of Contents
Any party who acts negligently or intentionally in such a way to cause the death of another human being may be held responsible for the injuries—economic and emotional—that result from that death. A party is negligent if they fail to act with the same level of care as a person of ordinary prudence under the same circumstances.
Wrongful death can occur in many ways, but the following are the most common:
- Car accident: Motor vehicle injuries have been documented as a leading cause of death in Nassau County with nearly 100 Nassau residents dying each year from traffic accident-related injuries. A driver who violates a traffic law or regulation is generally found negligent, including speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted driving, and failure to obey traffic signals or signs.
- Premise liability: Often referred to as slip and fall accidents, these preventable injuries happen when there are unsafe conditions on public or private property. The duty of care owed by the property owner is determined by the victim’s status on the property at the time of the injury. Generally speaking, property owners are required to ensure their property is free from hazards and that visitors are warned of known hazards. Falls are documented as the second leading cause of death in Nassau County.
- Workplace accidents: In one recent year, 73 workers were killed at their place of work in New York. The primary causes of these fatalities were contact with objects or equipment, falls, slips, and trips, transportation incidents, and exposure to harmful substances or environments. Most workplace fatalities are handled through workers’ compensation, unless the fatality occurred because of an intentional act of the employer.
- Medical malpractice: Medical professionals must act with the same level of care as other medical professionals treating a similar issue. If a provider makes a negligent mistake that is the cause of the patient’s death, they have committed medical malpractice. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and New York is ranked as one of the states where death from medical malpractice is most common.
- Product liability: Manufacturers have a responsibility to test their products for safety and only sell products without defects. If a product failure causes someone’s death, the manufacturer might be responsible. Analyzing product liability can be complicated and often requires the input of an expert witness.
The potential causes and responsible parties for wrongful death are wide-ranging, and evidence is required to substantiate the claim that another party was responsible. The type and relevance of the evidence will vary depending on the circumstances of the victim’s death. An experienced attorney will work with you to understand the facts surrounding your loved one’s death to identify which parties are responsible.
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death action cannot be brought by the victim. Instead, the estate of the victim is responsible for pursuing recovery for the victim’s pain and suffering, and survivors must pursue economic losses they have suffered because of the victim’s death.
The estate of the victim has the right to recover for the pain and suffering of the victim after the injury but before their death. Recovery for the suffering will be dictated by either the will of the victim or the intestate laws of New York.
Recovery for pain and suffering requires evidence that the victim was conscious after the accident and experienced the pain and suffering. Pre-impact terror is also a recognized element of pain and suffering. If the injury was even briefly anticipated by the victim, recovery for this terror is possible.
The amount of damages awarded will depend on the degree of consciousness, severity of pain, and duration of suffering. To establish a damages demand, you will need to work with your lawyer to analyze the evidence of consciousness and pain exhibited by the victim before their death.
The victim is often not the only individual harmed by their death. The victim’s family is left to deal with the emotional trauma of the loss as well as the financial impact, which could include the loss of a provider as well as handling the costs of a funeral.
New York statute only authorizes the personal representative of the victim’s estate to bring a wrongful death action. It is intended to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect, or default which caused the victim’s death from a person who would have been liable to the victim for their wrongful conduct if death had not occurred.
A wrongful death action is appropriate when the victim is survived by distributees, which is any person entitled to take or share in the property of the victim. Authorized distributees are:
To recover, the distributee must establish that they had a reasonable expectation of support from the victim, and there is no requirement that the individual was receiving support at the time of the victim’s death. If you are unsure if you are an authorized distributee, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights.
While it is impossible to put a dollar amount on someone’s life, their loved ones must deal with serious emotional and financial impacts. The victim’s loved ones are entitled to recover fair and just compensation for the injuries they have suffered because of the defendant’s negligence.
Common damages suffered in a wrongful death action include:
- Loss of support. Survivors may recover the value of any lost support services they would have received from the victim, including things like cooking, cleaning, and driving. The appropriate measure of damages is based on the cost of hiring others to provide these services. If the survivors are children, the damages will also include loss of parental support such as the nurturing, intellectual, moral, and physical support a parent provides a child.
- Mental pain and suffering: There is no doubt that surviving loved ones will experience emotional pain and suffering after such a tragic loss. These emotional damages are difficult to quantify, but your lawyer will work with you to determine an appropriate damages demand.
- Medical and funeral expenses. The death of a loved one also requires immediate out-of-pocket costs, like medical and funeral expenses. The defendant is responsible for compensating the parties that paid these out-of-pocket costs.
- Loss of earnings. Many victims are important financial earners for their family or other loved ones. Survivors can recover for the victim’s lost earnings including future anticipated earnings.
The courts are responsible for evaluating what damages are “fair and just” under the circumstances of each case.
They will consider the victim’s:
- Age, health, and life expectancy before the injury
- Work habits and current work position
- Future earning capacity
- Potential for career advancement
- Number, age, and life expectancy of the survivors
While a jury is usually responsible for determining damages if the case proceeds to trial, you will likely receive a settlement offer from the defendant or their insurer before the trial date. Accepting a settlement offer provides a certain result and resolves the matter faster than going to trial. A settlement offer is generally less than your full damages demand, which is the price you may pay for speed and certainty. Work with your lawyer to analyze any settlement offer before accepting.
If you accept a settlement offer, there are two methods for payment:
- Lump-sum payment: If the defendant offers a lump sum payment of the settlement, the survivors will receive a single payment of the full settlement amount. This option is often preferred by survivors because it allows for immediate payment of medical and other expenses and provides financial flexibility.
- Structured settlement: Instead of a lump sum payment the defendant might offer a structured settlement where damages are paid in agreed upon amounts over time. A structured settlement doesn’t allow the same flexibility as a lump sum payment but is often more helpful in managing long-term expenses. Think carefully about accepting a structured settlement, because the structure is very difficult to change after acceptance.
The estate and survivors will also have to consider any debts owed by the victim and ensure that creditors are repaid. Your lawyer will work with you to evaluate the structure of the settlement offer and to determine the treatment of creditors.
East Meadow Wrongful Death FAQs
After the death of the loved one, you will be left dealing with the pain of the loss and the void, financial and emotional, their absence has left in your life. You will undoubtedly be left with questions about why this has happened, especially if the death was due to the negligent or intentional act of another person or party. You may find yourself with questions about how to recover for the loss you have suffered because of the victim’s death. An experienced attorney will work with you to navigate the complicated process of recovery.
Read on for answers to commonly asked questions after a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death.
Any death caused by the negligent or intentional act of another party is a wrongful death. The survivors of wrongful death victims may recover from the responsible party for injuries the victim and the survivors have suffered.
Any party who acts outside of the standard duty of care is negligent. The relevant duty of care will depend on the status of the individual. For example, a medical practitioner is held to the same level of care as another practitioner in the same field. The duty of a property owner depends on whether they are operating a business or hosting a social guest. Building a negligence case is a fact-intensive process, and your attorney will work with you to analyze third-party responsibility and the supporting evidence.
While any negligent or intentional act that causes the death of another is a wrongful death, certain scenarios more commonly cause another’s death.
- Car accidents: It is unfortunately common for a driver of a motor vehicle to act negligently and cause an injury. Any violation of a traffic law or regulation is evidence of negligence, including speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, or failure to comply with traffic signals or signs. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the East Meadow area.
- Premise liability: If a property is poorly maintained or presents other hazards, an unsuspecting visitor could find themselves the victim of a slip and fall or other injury. While the duty of care of the property owner depends on the status of the visitor, there is generally an obligation to warn visitors of hazards and generally maintain the property in a safe condition. In the East Meadow area, falls are the second leading cause of death.
- Accidents at work: An employer is responsible for any injury, including death, that an employee suffers while at work. In New York, 73 workplace fatalities took place in one recent year. Common causes of workplace fatalities include falls, contact with equipment or objects, transportation incidents, and exposure to harmful substances. Seeking recovery for a workplace fatality can be even more complicated because it will likely be handled through the state workers’ compensation process.
- Medical malpractice: Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and New York is ranked as one of the worst for medical errors. Medical professionals are held to the duty of care of others in the same practice and treating a similar issue. Medical malpractice is not limited to doctors. Any medical professional and medical facilities could commit medical malpractice.
- Product liability: If the victim was killed because of a malfunctioning or unsafe product, the manufacturer of the product might be responsible. The company manufacturing the product is required to perform testing to ensure the product is safe and to manufacture the product without errors.
Even if the death of your loved one does not fit in one of the scenarios described above, they might still have been the victim of a wrongful death. An experienced lawyer can work with you to analyze the facts surrounding the death to determine which parties are responsible for the loss.
The New York wrongful death statute requires that the victim’s personal representative file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim’s estate. If a family member wants to bring a wrongful death claim, they must be named as the estate’s personal representative. If a personal representative already exists, the family will need to work with that representative to pursue a wrongful death action.
No matter who serves as the personal representative, the estate can seek recovery for losses suffered by the victim’s heirs, beneficiaries, or other authorized survivors who have suffered losses because of the victim’s death. If the estate recovers based on a wrongful death action, the personal representative holds the recovery in a trust for the surviving family members.
Outside of a wrongful death action, the family can seek recovery for the pain and suffering of the victim after the injury but before death. To recover for pain and suffering, the victim must have been conscious after the injury or have experienced pre-impact terror. The damages will depend on the victim’s degree of consciousness, severity of pain, and time spent suffering. These damages will be distributed according to the victim’s will or the intestate laws of New York.
It is up to a prosecutor whether to bring criminal charges against a defendant. Any punishment for a criminal violation will be handled through the criminal courts. The prosecutor will contact you if they require your input or testimony in pursuit of criminal charges.
Even if the defendant is facing criminal charges, they are also responsible for civil charges if the personal representative brings a wrongful death action against the defendant.
The interplay of civil and criminal charges can be confusing. Your lawyer will work with you to understand the difference between the two actions and assist you in any communication with the prosecutor or other individuals involved in the crime.
The defendant is responsible for the losses suffered by the survivors of the victim, including:
- Loss of support services. The defendant is responsible for support services lost by survivors, including cooking, cleaning, or driving. When awarding these damages, the jury will consider the cost of hiring others to provide these services.
- Lost parental support: If the victim had children, they can recover for the loss of the nurturing, intellectual, moral, and physical support a parent provides a child.
- Medical and funeral expenses. The defendant must reimburse the survivors for out-of-pocket costs for the medical care of the victim and funeral expenses.
- Loss of earnings. Loss of a loved one is often accompanied by a huge financial loss. Any survivor who loses financial support from the victim may recover these losses. The defendant is responsible for the victim’s lost earnings, including future anticipated earnings.
Preparing a comprehensive damages claim is particularly complicated in a wrongful death action. In a personal injury case, only one individual is affected and seeking recovery. In a wrongful death action, the damages demand will need to consider each survivor and the impact of the loss of the victim on that survivor.
Additionally, you will also need to work with your lawyer to analyze and accommodate the following factors in the damages calculation:
- Age, health, and life expectancy before the injury
- Work habits and current work position
- Future earning capacity
- Potential for career advancement
- Number, age, and life expectancy of the survivors
A lawyer will help you consider all possible damages and will bring in third parties such as medical and economic experts to provide input as needed.
Every state limits the amount of time available to bring legal action after injury or death, and this is called the statute of limitations.
The relevant deadline is different for a wrongful death action and an action for recovery of the victim’s pain and suffering.
- Wrongful death action: Eligible survivors must bring a wrongful death action within two years of the victim’s death. While two years sounds like a long time, it will pass quickly as you manage the emotions of the loss and all the complexity of preparing a case.
- Pain and suffering recovery: A pain and suffering action is subject to the same statute of limitations that would apply to a personal injury lawsuit brought by the victim if they were alive. The statute of limitations for most negligence actions in New York is three years from the date of the injury. There are some exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations. For example, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be brought within 2.5 years of the date of malpractice.
Contact an attorney immediately after the victim’s passing to ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to recover for your losses.
In a wrongful death action, the personal representative will be responsible for accepting or rejecting any settlement offer. Because the personal representative represents the interests of the survivors, be sure to keep in close communication with the personal representative if you are not serving this role for the estate. The personal representative will also need to consider the demands of any creditors on the victim’s estate.
Accepting a settlement offer is a critical decision. A settlement offer will resolve the case more quickly and ensure a certain recovery, but it is unlikely the offer will be for the full damage demand. Work with your lawyer to discuss any settlement offer and analyze whether it is in your best interest to accept the offer.
If you do decide to accept a settlement offer, you will need to negotiate for either a lump sum or structured settlement. A lump-sum settlement provides the entire settlement all in one payment. This is often preferred by survivors because it allows quick payment of all lingering expenses and gives greater financial flexibility.
Structured settlements are often common in wrongful death cases because survivors would not have received all the financial support from the victim at one time. These settlements provide payment in set amounts over time. Do not accept a structured settlement unless you are certain the payment structure meets your needs.
A lawyer is an important ally as you seek recovery after the loss of a loved one. Wrongful death actions are complicated and confusing. Dealing with this on top of the emotional strain of the loss is overwhelming.
Our experienced attorneys can help ease the stress by:
- Analyzing the specific facts of the case;
- Evaluating the parties involved to determine which acted negligently;
- Compiling evidence to support a negligence finding;
- Preparing a comprehensive assessment of damages for all survivors;
- Coordinating with experts on complicated damages claims;
- Communicating with other parties, including the personal representative, other survivors, and insurance companies;
- Preparing court filings; and
- Advising on any settlement offer made by the defendant
Choose an experienced attorney that you can trust. The team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP has a long history of securing successful results for clients in and around East Meadow. We understand the stressful situation faced by survivors and focus on easing this stress for our clients. Our experienced wrongful death lawyers provide compassionate and straightforward legal representation, with a focus on clear and consistent communication.
If you have lost a loved one because of the negligent or intentional act of another party, contact the attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers LLP today.
Contact an Experienced East Meadow Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Few times in life are as stressful as dealing with the loss of a loved one, and you should not be forced to handle it on your own. An experienced wrongful death attorney is an important partner as you navigate recovery after the victim’s death. A lawyer will help you identify the responsible party, locate and analyze evidence, communicate with the defendant and their insurance provider, prepare a damages demand, and consider any settlement offers. Most importantly, a lawyer will work with you to be sure you receive the recovery you deserve.
The East Meadow legal team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP is composed of compassionate wrongful death attorneys with a long history of securing successful results for our clients. We offer our clients clear communication, personal service, and effective, straightforward legal representation.
If you have lost a loved one because of the negligent or intentional act of another party, contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today at (877) 565-2993, or write to us using our webchat or through our contact page for your free case evaluation. If you become a Jacoby & Meyers LLP client, we only charge an attorney’s fee if we are successful in recovering money for your claim.
East Meadow Office
90 Merrick Avenue, Suite 601
East Meadow, NY 11554
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