Punitive Damages in a New York Wrongful Death Case

When a loved one dies because of another’s reckless or negligent conduct, grieving family members often face numerous financial and emotional consequences. In New York, qualifying family members harmed by wrongful death can file suit for compensatory damages. However, in some extreme cases, a victim’s loved ones may also claim punitive damages. Here is more on punitive damages in a New York wrongful death case.


New York Wrongful Death Damages

Under New York law, when a person is killed due to another’s negligence, their surviving family members can pursue civil action for their pecuniary losses. Generally, pecuniary or monetary losses refer to damages for the victim’s financial contribution to their loved ones, their funeral expenses, and the value of their household services and parental guidance.


In many wrongful death actions, the victim’s loved ones will be limited to recovering pecuniary damages. However, there can be cases where the circumstances of the death warrant additional punitive damages.


What Are Punitive Damages?


Punitive damages may be available when the responsible party’s actions were exceptionally wanton, willful, or reckless. In other words, these damages may be appropriate when a party’s actions were more than merely negligent. Generally, punitive damages are imposed to punish the wrongdoer for their egregious conduct and serve as a warning to others.


When are Punitive Damages Available?

Punitive damages are reserved for situations where the culpable party was so careless or reckless that they showed significant disregard for the consequences of their actions. When a person acts intentionally, willfully, or maliciously in a way that harms another person, there may be grounds for this type of recovery.


Punitive damages may be available in a New York Wrongful death case when:


  • Drunk driving is involved,
  • A manufacturer is aware of a dangerous condition and fails to take remedial action,
  • A known unsafe medical professional is allowed to provide care, and
  • Other serious circumstances


In assessing punitive damages, jurors may consider the following factors:


  • The responsible party’s intent
  • The responsible party’s recklessness
  • The impact of the party’s actions on their surviving family members
  • The amount that may deter the party from engaging in the same behavior.


Is There a Limit for Punitive Damages?

In New York, there is no cap on punitive damages. Therefore, the jury is free to determine any amount it deems appropriate. When the facts are serious enough to warrant these types of damages, the amount may be several times more than a survivor’s pecuniary damages. Imposing higher damages can compensate the victim’s loved ones and act as a deterrent to others who might engage in the same behavior.


New York punitive damage claims typically involve complex facts, and establishing the necessary elements can be complicated. Therefore, if you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, it’s essential that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced New York wrongful death attorney. Your counsel can meet with you and help you evaluate your case and assess the available damages.


Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney


If your loved one died due to someone’s negligence, you should schedule a free consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bonina & Bonina, P.C. Call us at 1888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have decades of experience helping clients injured by negligence, and we can explain your options and help you decide what actions you should take. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we come to work every day believing that there should be equal justice for all. Se Habla Espaňol. Home and hospital visits are available.