- 1 New York Wrongful Death Attorneys at HURT-911®
- 2 What is a Wrongful Death Case Worth in New York?
- 3 Wrongful Death in New York
- 4 How Much Are You Entitled to for Wrongful Death in New York?
- 5 How to Pay Bills After a Wrongful Death
- 6 Obtaining the Police Report, Autopsy Report, and Certificate of Death
- 7 Who Can File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
- 8 Who May Be Responsible for Causing the Wrongful Death of Your Loved One
- 9 Can You Sue for Wrongful Death or Pain & Suffering?
- 10 Asset Search
- 11 Umbrella Insurance Search
- 12 Legal Fee for Wrongful Death Lawyers in New York
- 13 What is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
- 14 Why You Need to Call a Wrongful Death Lawyer in New York Quickly
New York Wrongful Death Attorneys at HURT-911®
Representing a family member due to the wrongful death of a loved one has been the most emotionally difficult type of personal injury case we have. Obviously, the emotional toll on you is inconceivable but there is an emotional toll on us as well. That’s why we do more than just represent you for your loved one’s wrongful death claim. We want to minimize the stress you don’t need at this emotional time.
When someone is killed in an accident because of negligence, the surviving family is not only left with a devastating emotional loss but many financial and other issues. You may want to know what really happened and we will find out. Sometimes, that can actually give you some peace of mind. We are really here to help and not just with your wrongful death claim.
What is a Wrongful Death Case Worth in New York?
While the value of every personal injury case is different and difficult to predict, it’s even more true with wrongful death. But we will give you a general idea here.
The Least Valuable Type of Wrongful Death Case
The least valuable type of wrongful death case is still valuable. This is where the deceased:
- the deceased did not have any pre-impact terror
- died instantly without pain and suffering;
- did not have any pre-accident terror; and
- did not have a spouse, children, or parents dependent upon him or her for support.
Even this type of tragic wrongful death accident can still be worth a lot of money because juries will refuse to award nothing. However, from a purely legal standpoint, a wrongful death case meeting the above four criteria is technically not worth anything in New York which is why passing The Grieving Families Act is so important. See below how you can help pass this important law in New York.
Although many wrongful death lawyers often settle cases like this for around $180,000, the HURT-911® wrongful death lawyers settled a wrongful death case on Long Island for $500,000 for the parents of a 20-year-old who was killed instantly; not employed; not married, and had no children.
Wrongful Death Cases Can Be Worth Millions
A wrongful death case can be worth millions when there is pain and suffering before death. Even a few seconds of pain and suffering can add substantial value to a wrongful death case.
Wrongful Death Cases That Can Be Worth Many Millions
A wrongful death case can be worth many millions when there is pain and suffering before death and the deceased was earning a living with anyone dependent upon the deceased for support.
Pre-impact Terror Can Make a Wrongful Death Case Extremely Valuable
Since 2017, pre-accident or pre-impact terror has become an extremely valuable part of a wrongful death case. In 2017, for the first time, the New York State Appellate Division upheld many millions of dollars for pre-impact terror, see In Re: 91st Street Crane Collapse Litigation, 54 A.D.3d 139, 62 N.Y.S.3d 11 (1st Dept. 2017)
Wrongful Death in New York
New York is one of the few states where a jury may NOT make an award for mental anguish, emotional loss, or loss of companionship in a wrongful death case.
In New York, the pain and suffering of the deceased and loss of financial support are the largest part of the compensation you are entitled to.
New York is one of the few states that still limits compensation for wrongful death and has refused many times to amend the law written in 1847. 41 states have already amended their wrongful death laws to include recovery for emotional loss, but not New York.
You can help to end 175 years of wrongful death injustice in New York by telling your New York State senator to sign The Grieving Families Act by going to HopeForNYFamilies.com and clicking the button that says, “Send an email to your State Senator and State Assemblymember”.
How Much Are You Entitled to for Wrongful Death in New York?
New York State allows the following types of compensation for wrongful death:
- The deceased’s pain and suffering prior to death (we retain a medical expert to prove the amount of pain and suffering).
- The deceased’s pre-accident or pre-impact terror (the fleeting moment when the decedent knows he/she is about to die).
- Loss of financial support of the deceased, voluntary assistance, and possible inheritance.
- The deceased’s medical bills related to the accident.
- Burial and funeral expenses. (see funeral expenses paid by no-fault in a car accident).
- Punitive damages may be awarded if the accident was caused by more than mere negligence. An example is a DWI – drunk driver or a driver on drugs.
- Children, and in New York even adult children, can claim loss of parental guidance for the wrongful death of a parent. Law review article: Calculating Damages for Loss of Parental Nurture.
- 9% interest on the damages award, calculated from the date of death.
The “pecuniary injuries” (financial loss) caused by the death of a decedent who was earning income may be calculated, in part, from factors relevant to the decedent’s earning potential, such as present and future earnings, the potential for advancement, and the probability of means to support heirs, as well as factors pertaining to the decedent’s age, character and condition, and the circumstances of the distributees. Gonzalez v New York City Hous. Auth., 77 N.Y.2d 663, 572 N.E.2d 598, 569 N.Y.S.2d 915
Individuals without a spouse or children may not be financially “valuable” in the eyes of New York State law but the financial loss can be proven. In the case of a decedent who was not a wage earner, “pecuniary injuries” may be calculated, in part, from the increased expenditures required to continue the services she provided, as well as the compensable losses of a personal nature, such as loss of guidance. Gonzalez v New York City Hous. Auth.
When personal injury lawyers do not properly prepare the evidence needed, they often settle these cases for far too little. It is vitally important to hire the right expert witnesses to prove that the deceased had some time of pain and suffering and/or terror, even if only for a few seconds, and that there was a financial loss.
Hiring the right expert witness was how the HURT-911® wrongful death lawyers settled the least valuable type of wrongful death case for $500,000 when a 20-year-old was killed instantly; was not employed; not married, and had no children.
This is why you should retain just any personal injury lawyer. Call the HURT-911® wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation.
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How to Pay Bills After a Wrongful Death
After a wrongful death accident, many bills will come in the mail ranging from ambulance, hospital, and funeral bills to a cell phone bill, car payments, rent or mortgage, insurance, and many other bills.
You may not have to pay any bills which were in the name of the deceased but you will get calls from collection agents. We can help you with eliminating the bills and we can keep collection agents from bothering you. We can take care of these problems for you, at no extra charge, so you don’t have to deal with them during your time of loss.
How to Pay For the Funeral Bill and Other Financial Needs
If you urgently need money to replace the income of a loved one, we can quickly arrange a lawsuit cash advance that is paid back at the end of your case and only if we get money for you.
How to Transfer Ownership of Deceased’s Car
If the deceased owned a car, we can help you with the vehicle finance agreement or lease and insurance issues. We can also help you to transfer ownership of the car. NYS DMV allows the transfer of ownership of one vehicle from a deceased without going through probate.
Did Your Loved One Have Assets You Don’t Know About?
If you think your loved one may have had assets you don’t know about or don’t know where they are, just let us know.
We can find out if your loved one had assets you may not know about such as:
- Safe-deposit box
- Life insurance
- Real estate
- Airplanes, and other assets.
Keeping Your Loved One’s Voice and Cell Phone Messages for Prosperity
Whether or not you want to keep the cell phone activated for a while, you may want to keep a copy of voicemail messages. If you want to download a copy of voicemail messages to or from a loved one from a cell phone or landline answering machine, you can use voicemailsforever.com. It’s inexpensive but we’ll pay the fee for our clients.
Obtaining the Police Report, Autopsy Report, and Certificate of Death
We will obtain a copy of the police report, autopsy report, and certificate of death for you. You don’t need to spend time doing these things.
Who Can File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
If there is a will, the executor or executrix or someone listed in a will can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If there is no will, a distributee pursuant to New York State law can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This may be a spouse, children, parents, and/or siblings.
The Estate and Family of Illegal Aliens Have Can Sue for Wrongful Death
The estate or family members of illegal aliens/immigrants can have a lawsuit for wrongful death when the illegal alien is killed in an accident or because of negligence. The family members also do not have to be U.S. citizens or legal residents. The family members may also be illegal aliens. Read about how we can represent and help illegal aliens.
Who May Be Responsible for Causing the Wrongful Death of Your Loved One
We will investigate thoroughly to find all possible people, companies, and government entities who may be responsible. After we have identified the responsible parties, we don’t just stop after notifying their insurance companies. Next, we perform asset searches and umbrella insurance searches.
Can You Sue for Wrongful Death or Pain & Suffering?
It’s a very confusing topic, even for lawyers! Do you sue for wrongful death or sue for personal injury pain and suffering? The most confusing part is at the end of the case when the settlement money is ready to be distributed. Should the money be paid for wrongful death or pain and suffering?
As mentioned above, New York State doesn’t have a wrongful death statute like other states because, in New York, you can only get money for the reasons in the bullet list above and you cannot get money for mental anguish. However, the Surrogate’s Court will look at the papers submitted by the lawyer to determine whether the money should be distributed pursuant to wrongful death or pain and suffering.
When the settlement money is ready to be distributed, there is a big difference between paying the money for wrongful death and pain and suffering
Settlement Money Paid for Wrongful Death
If the settlement money is paid for wrongful death, the money bypasses the estate and is paid to family members according to New York statute and ordered by the Surrogate’s Court.
Settlement Money Paid for Pain and Suffering
If the settlement money is paid for pain and suffering, the money is paid to the estate. If the accident victim died without a will, an administrator will have to be appointed (we pay an estate lawyer with our own money and provide this service to you for free).
If the accident victim died with a will, the will appoints an executor. Either with or without a will, an estate has to be created.
If the estate owes money for debts, the settlement money will be used to pay the debts of the estate. The settlement money will be distributed to the persons included in the will or pursuant to New York State statute for people who die without a will (this distribution will be different than the statutes pertaining to wrongful death).
We perform an asset search to determine if there are any assets that may be needed to satisfy a judgment for wrongful death due to negligence. We pay for access to a database that will show real estate owned, cars, boats, planes, and other assets. We also get a report showing all bank accounts.
Umbrella Insurance Search
We also perform an umbrella insurance search to determine if there is any additional insurance coverage that may be available to satisfy a judgment for wrongful death due to negligence. There is more than one lawyer who has found that an insurance company failed to disclose the existence of umbrella insurance. The only way to know for sure is to search the national Claims Loss Underwriting Exchange.
The legal fee for our Wrongful Death Attorneys to represent you for the wrongful death of a loved one is 1/3 of what we collect for you. There is no fee if we do not collect money for you and our legal fee is paid at the end of the case out of the money we collect.
We will advance the case expenses which are paid back at the end of the case and you are not responsible for any case expenses unless we collect money for you.
Some of the services we provide to you at no extra charge include:
- Advice and assistance regarding bills coming in the mail which you may not need to pay!
- Transfer of car ownership
- Estate work (see next paragraph below)
- Guardianship proceedings, if there are children.
NO Legal Fee for Estate Work for Wrongful Death
If the deceased died without a will, an Administrator (male) or Administratrix (female) must be appointed to be in charge of the estate. Where more than one person wants to be in charge of the estate, there can be co-administrators. If the deceased died with a will, the will must be probated. If there are children, guardianship proceedings will be required.
When we are your wrongful death lawyers, we can save you thousands of dollars in estate legal fees by handling the estate for free. With other wrongful death attorneys, you’ll eventually receive a letter telling you to hire an estate lawyer.
This was taken from a template letter used by another well-known personal injury law firm, which they send after the client meets with them:
In order to proceed with your case, we will need to have an estate representative appointed.
As such, we suggest that you retain an estate attorney, [name removed], an expert in estate matters, who often assists our office with estate proceedings. We have given Mr. X your telephone number so he may contact you to discuss your case. You can, of course, contact him directly at (XXX) XXX-XXXX to ensure that he has all the appropriate information to complete this process.
Of course, when you contact their estate attorney, you will find that the estate legal fees will be several thousands of dollars and you may have to pay some or all of it upfront!
We really do care about our clients so we pay an estate lawyer out of our pocket to perform the estate legal services necessary for a wrongful death case, in the event that someone is killed and the family doesn’t want to hire an estate lawyer.
We do not add the estate fees to your bill at the end of your case!
We use an estate attorney who does estate work in New York Surrogates Courts. Of course, you can use your own estate attorney if you want to.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
Statute of Limitations to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York (when a government agency is not involved) is 2 years from the date of death. This is important because it is one year shorter than the 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury.
When a Government Agency is Sued for Wrongful Death
If a government agency needs to be sued, a notice of claim must be filed before a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. The notice of claim usually must be filed within 90 days and the lawsuit must be filed within one year and 90 days. However, in a wrongful death case, the time to serve the notice of claim against a municipality is tolled (delayed) until an administrator or executor of the estate of the deceased is appointed.
Exceptions That Can Extend the Time to File for Wrongful Death
There are exceptions that can extend the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York.
If the person who caused the wrongful death has a criminal case pending because of causing the death, the statute of limitations is one year from the date the criminal case ends. (N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 5-4.1 (2021).)
If the death was caused due to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is two and a half years from the date of death. (N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214-a (2021.)
Why You Need to Call a Wrongful Death Lawyer in New York Quickly
- It’s important to investigate aspects of the accident immediately, get witness statements, and gather evidence before it’s too late.
- Most wrongful death attorneys will not accept a case just before the statute runs because it can take several months for proper investigation, so don’t wait until just before your time runs out.
- Since the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is only two years, one year shorter than for personal injury, you should call a wrongful death attorney immediately.
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Watch Founding Partner Phil Franckel, Esq. talk about New York Serious Injury Attorneys.com, difficult cases, and the 1-800-HURT-911® Dream Team™
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.