Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, L.L.P.

Queens Wrongful Death

When an individual from Queens dies due to another’s negligence, the immediate family of the deceased may have grounds to file a Wrongful Death lawsuit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 there were 130,557 unintentional accidents that lead to a fatality. Unintentional accidents are ranked 4th when comparing all other causes of death. Our Queens wrongful death lawyers have handled many such cases and are sensitive to the gravity of your family’s situation. We have represented many families in their pursuit of justice following the sudden loss of a loved one. Our attorneys understand how traumatic losing a loved one can be, which is why we strive to attain the maximum compensation possible for our clients. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our lawyers will fight relentlessly on your behalf so that you and your family recover the compensation that you may be entitled. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is very complicated due to the nuanced nature of the law in New York. As result, it is important to retain the services of a legal team with the necessary expertise.

Has someone you love unexpectedly died from the negligence of another? If so, you may have a meritorious wrongful death case. Please do not hesitate to call us at 212.406.1700 or contact us online. Our wrongful death attorneys will review the details of your particular case and decide whether or not you may be entitled to compensation.

Prerequisites to a Meritorious Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Queens

Similar to most areas of personal injury law, a valid wrongful death case requires proof of primarily three elements:

  1. Breach of Duty - The accused must have had a legal responsibility to act with caution and a reasonable degree of prudence when performing actions that are deemed potentially harmful to the victim. The defendant must have then acted negligently by breaching this legal duty.
  2. Damages - There must have occurred either economical or non-economical damages to the deceased’s family after the negligent actions of the defendant in order for the lawsuit to be compensable.
  3. Causation- It is the plaintiff’s burden to prove whether the defendant’s negligent actions directly caused the untimely death of their loved one. Even if the defendant breached their duty but their negligence did not cause the death of your family member, it will diminish your chances to recover compensation.

A wrongful death may occur in any division of personal injury litigation. Our firm is experienced in all areas of personal injury and has dealt with many wrongful death cases that have resulted from negligence in various fields. Some areas of personal injury that we have litigated a wrongful death case include but are not limited to the following:

  • Premises Liability/Slip-and-Fall Accidents
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Construction Accidents
  • Car Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Fire-based Accidents
Recoverable Compensation of a Wrongful Death Case in Queens

Among the more complicated and confusing aspects of a wrongful death case in Queens is the way the state calculates the maximum compensation that the deceased’s family may recover. Wrongful death lawsuits in New York are governed by The New York Estates, Powers, and Trust Laws (EPTL). The EPTL states that a representative can be appointed to manage the deceased’s estate and sue the negligent party for causing their death. The representative must then establish the pecuniary damage that the family may experience due to the untimely death of their loved one. Pecuniary damages include all economic losses; some examples are:

  • Medical Expenses – It is common to incur medical expenses where a family member was being treated for injuries from an accident or medical malpractice before ultimately dying from the negligence of the defendant. These medical expenses can be compensated by the party that was at fault.
  • Funeral Expenses – After the initial shock of the death of a loved one has passed, a family can be bombarded with large funeral expenses. We attempt to recover compensation to cover the necessary funeral expenses that only occurred due to the negligence of the defendant. The cost of a family’s loved one’s funeral should not become their burden.
  • Loss of Essential Income – If the deceased was the main source of income in their family, than it is possible to sue for that loss of their income. The family wouldn’t be able to uphold their lifestyle due to the death of their primary earner. Essential income includes the potential future earnings that the decedent would have made if they would continue to live their full expected life. An economist is hired to calculate the earnings and salary raises that would have occurred during the decedent’s life.
  • Pain and Suffering - This refers to the pain and suffering that the decedent experienced that lead to their death, not to be confused by the emotional distress that the family experiences due to the death of their loved one.
  • Lost Benefits – If the deceased provided certain benefits that were given to them from their employment, the family of the deceased can sue for those lost benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to: medical, dental, pension, and annuity benefits.
  • Loss of Parental Guidance - If the deceased had children, the economic value of what their children lost in future parental guidance can be determined and compensated to the family. For example, if a parent of a 2 year old dies in an accident caused by the negligence of another individual, that individual can be sued on behalf of the child for their loss of parental guidance that is needed in becoming an upstanding adult.

At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, we hire the services of an economist who would calculate all of these economic losses that your family may be entitled to in a valid lawsuit. A large distinction that many lawyers have trouble making when it comes to suing for pain and suffering is that, specifically in New York State, you can only sue for pain and suffering that the deceased individual experienced prior to death. New York doesn’t consider the mental anguish or sorrow that the family experiences from the untimely death of their loved one as a cost that can be compensated for in most cases. Most of our clients are shocked by this revelation, but New York is part of the minority of states that do not compensate for the deceased’s family’s emotional distress. The law limits the recovery of damages resulting from the person’s death to pecuniary injuries, which means economic losses. You may not consider or make any award for sorrow, mental anguish, injury to feelings, or for loss of companionship. There is one exception to this rule, and that’s if a family member witnessed the death of their loved one in person. New York State would grant compensation for the emotional distress of the family member who had to witness the death of their relative due to the negligence of the defendant; this clause is referred to as the “Zone of Danger”.

Zone of Danger Law

The “Zone of Danger” clause is an exception to the laws in New York that prohibit a victim’s family member from recovering compensation for the emotional distress incurred from their unexpected death. The one exception to the rule occurs in cases where a family member directly experienced the death of their loved one. For instance, if a person was struck by a car while their spouse or kids witnessed the incident, the decedent’s family can sue for the emotional distress they experienced from witnessing the death of their loved one. To have grounds to recover compensation for emotional distress the family of the decedent must have been contemporaneously aware of the sudden death of their family member. The emotional distress that the family experienced must be proven in court through the use of admissible evidence that witnessing such an event caused legitimate emotional trauma.

How Our Firm Can Help You and Your Family Following Wrongful Death

Our firm will work closely with you in order to build your case against the negligent individual(s) that have caused the death of your beloved family member. We will try to help with the grieving process that you must be experiencing by recovering the compensation that you may be entitled. Our experts will make all of the necessary calculations to determine the maximum damages that you and your family have incurred from the devastating passing of your loved one. We are sincerely sympathetic to your loss and will be the voice of your beloved family member by fighting fiercely for your family’s rights. Please call 212.406.1700 for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys or fill out our case review form online.

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