The sudden and tragic death of a loved one is always traumatic.  If your child, spouse or any relative on whom you counted on for support died due to a negligent act, you may wonder how you will survive, not just emotionally, but financially.

As a surviving family member, you may have an option. Every state has statutes for wrongful death, including New York. Suing may help ease the financial burden resulting from your loved one’s death.

Defining wrongful death

Wrongful death is a claim against a person or business because of negligence or misconduct, resulting in the victim’s death. In many cases, the negligent party will be investigated or criminally prosecuted for his actions.  However, regardless of the outcome of the investigation or prosecution, the victim’s family may still sue.

Proving wrongful death

To successfully sue for wrongful death, the following must be proven:

  • There was a death
  • Negligence or intent to cause harm caused the death
  • The victim could pursue a suit if the negligent act did not cause death
  • Family members will suffer because of the loss

Receiving an award for damages

According to the New York statute, a surviving family member or members may be awarded a sum that is fair and just compensation. The statute continues by stating damage awards may cover:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical, nursing or other costs associated with the person’s final injury or illness
  • Loss of wages and benefits
  • Care of surviving children
  • Support to the victim’s family members

When determining the award, the court may consider:

  • The life expectancy of the victim
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the victim prior to his death
  • What financial support, if any, did the victim provide to his family members