When a loved one dies due to somebody’s negligence, it is a devastating time. Surviving family members go through a great deal of stress and have sustained a heartbreaking loss. While a wrongful death lawsuit can’t bring back a loved one, it can help provide some measure of financial security in a difficult time.
New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law section 5-4.3 limits damages in a wrongful death case to pecuniary losses and do not include things such as loss of consortium or companionship. Damages that are recoverable include:
Medical Bills and Funeral Expenses
Compensation for items such as funeral costs and any medical bills related to the decedent’s final injury or illness may be recovered.
Pain and Suffering
In a wrongful death suit, there may be compensation for any conscious pain and suffering the decedent experienced before their death. The mere fact that the decedent was alive for some time after the accident or incident that caused the death is not enough. The decedent has to have some level of awareness off the pain and suffering. Pain and suffering includes physical and psychological pain, including the fear of imminent death. New York does not allow family members to recover for their own pain and suffering as a result of the death of their loved one.
Future lost earnings may also be recoverable. These lost earnings include what the decedent would have earned had they continued working up until typical retirement age. This also includes the value of any benefits such as health insurance the decedent would have received as part of their employment. Calculating future lost earnings depends on the decedent’s education, career, and age. Loss of future earnings is usually proven with the testimony of an economist or other experts on wages and salaries who will determine the decedent’s earning capacity.
Reasonable Value of Household Services
In a wrongful death suit, there may be compensation for the reasonable value of any household services the decedent provided to the family. For example, if the decedent was a stay at home parent who cared for the children while the other spouse worked, there may be recovery for the reasonable value of daycare expenses.
Loss of Parental Guidance
When a parent dies, a child may be able to recover for the loss of educational training, instruction, and guidance that the now-deceased parent would have provided. Damages awarded for loss of parental guidance are typically based on the age of the child.
In limited cases, there may be recovery for punitive damages. The mere fact that someone died is not enough to establish a right to punitive damages. There must be some outrageous, malicious, or willful conduct on the part of the defendant.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Determining damages in a wrongful death suit can be difficult, so if your loved one has died as the result of someone’s negligence, you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.