To prove wrongful death in New York, you must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness caused your loved one’s death. You must also show that the passing of your loved one has resulted in economic or non-economic damages.
To have a viable wrongful death claim, it is essential to prove that the defendant would have been liable for damages even if your loved one had survived. In other words, the victim still would have had a cause for action in a personal injury lawsuit even if they had survived.
Here is What You Need to Prove
There are four elements of a negligence claim, and all four must be met:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care. All motorists owe a duty of care to follow all traffic laws, so this element is easily met. However, it can be more complex in other cases not involving traffic accidents.
- The duty of care was breached. This element is frequently disputed in wrongful death cases and is sometimes difficult to prove. That is one reason our lawyers at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. recommend that you hire an experienced New York wrongful death attorney as soon as possible following your loved one’s death. One clear example of a breach of duty is– the defendant was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As long as you have proof that they were under the influence, you would meet the requirement for a breach. On the other hand, in a slip and fall case, if the dangerous condition developed 30 seconds before your loved one’s accident, it is possible that no breach occurred.
- This breach must have caused the accident at issue. Your loved one tragically died in a car accident because the defendant was drunk, ran a red light, and plowed into the victim’s vehicle. It would be relatively simple to prove that the defendant’s breach caused the crash. However, suppose your family member was killed while walking in a crosswalk. They were hit by a drunk driver who was stopped at a light and rear-ended– and hit your loved one. This element would not be met for the drunk driver. In other words, despite driving drunk, the defendant was legally stopped at a light.
- You must prove that you suffered economic or non-economic damages due to your loved one’s death. For example, if your spouse was killed and now your household has seen a drastic reduction in income as a result, then you would be eligible to recover damages. You could also recover for their medical expenses between the time of the accident and their death, as well as funeral and burial expenses. Additionally, you could be eligible to recover non-economic damages such as loss of consortium or pain and suffering. If your loved one did not die immediately, his estate may recover damages for pain and suffering during the time he was alive.
Types of Evidence that an Experienced Attorney May Seek
- The victim’s medical records
- Police reports
- Photographs of the victim’s injuries
- Photographs of property damage
- Surveillance video footage of the accident
- Expert testimony
- Eyewitness accounts
Hiring the Right Lawyer is Crucial
Wrongful death claims can be complex. The right New York City wrongful death lawyer will provide the compassionate representation that you need while also aggressively fighting for justice on your family’s behalf.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation
For more than 50 years, our attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. have been advocating for injured New Yorkers. If you have questions about proving a wrongful death claim in New York, contact us to schedule your free case review today. Our clients do not pay any legal fees unless they win.