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who can file wrongful death claim ny

In accordance with New York Consolidated Law §4-1.1, specific individuals have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim. This includes the deceased individual’s children, parents, spouse, or a duly appointed representative of the estate. According to New York law, these individuals are granted the authority to seek compensation for damages resulting from the wrongful death of their family member.

When someone’s passing is the result of another’s negligence or misconduct, New York law allows the distributees of the departed to recover damages in a wrongful death claim.

In wrongful death cases, the departed is called the decedent, and the law limits who may initiate legal action against a party who is responsible for the decedent’s death. 

Below, we will discuss who can file a wrongful death claim in NY and who is entitled to the financial award from that claim.

If you have suffered the loss of someone close to you, allow us to extend our condolences. We know that money does not fix a tragic loss.

But the decedent’s family members have legal rights to get compensation from those who are at fault.

We can help. At the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima, we have the experience to protect your interests and champion your rights in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Suit

In a legal action for wrongful death, some of the decedent’s family members can receive the following

  • Compensation for the financial losses of the decedent,
  • Payment for medical care the decedent received for their fatal injury, 
  • Funeral expenses, 
  • The value of financial and other support the beneficiaries would have received from the decedent had they lived, and 
  • Punitive damages. 

Punitive damages are rare, but a court can award them if the at-fault party acted egregiously.

Calculation of these damages can be a complex undertaking.

Depending on the cause of the decedent’s death or the body deciding the amount of the legal award (i.e., a judge or jury), the law requires the decedent’s anticipated income tax obligations to also factor into the damage amount. 

Who Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Case? 

Damages awarded in wrongful death lawsuits are available only to distributees of the decedent.

And who qualifies as a distributee depends on the makeup of the decedent’s family at the time of their death.

Here are the distributees of the decedent who are eligible to recoup wrongful death damages in the following scenarios: 

  • If there is a spouse and a child—Recovery goes to the surviving spouse and all surviving children;
  • If there is a spouse and no child—Recovery goes to the surviving spouse;
  • If there is a child but no spouse—Recovery goes to all surviving children;
  • If there is no spouse or child—Recovery goes to any surviving parent;
  • If there is no spouse, child, or parent—Recovery goes to any surviving sibling;
  • If there is no spouse, child, parent, or sibling—Recovery goes to any surviving grandparents;
  • If there is no spouse, child, parent, sibling, or grandparent—Recovery goes to the grandparents’s surviving children or grandchildren; and 
  • If there is no spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, child of a grandparent, or grandchild of a grandparent—Recovery goes to the grandparents’s surviving great-grandchildren. 

Under the law, half-blood and full-blood relatives have equal rights to recovery. 

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death? 

The individual who initiates a wrongful death lawsuit does so for the benefit of the decedent’s distributees.

And there is only one individual who can file for wrongful death in New York: the personal representative of the decedent.

If you are a relative seeking legal remedies for the death of your loved one, speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney about how to locate the personal representative and assert your right to damages. 

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

At the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima, we focus exclusively on representing victims in personal injury cases.

New York attorney Theodore A. Naima has 25 years of trial experience and has helped thousands of individuals seek justice and redress for devastations caused by wrongful actors.

Our firm is here to offer you compassion, support, professional guidance, and legal protection in trying times.

Please call us at 516-280-7311 or contact us online for the help of a skilled advocate. 

Author Photo

Theodore A. Naima

Theodore A. Naima is the founding partner of the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima, a Personal Injury & Medical Malpractice Law Firm based in New York. In 2015, Ted was awarded the prestigious AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, the company that has long been recognized as setting the gold standard for lawyer ratings, signifying the highest degree of peer recognition and professional excellence.

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