Our attorneys are recognized as leaders in New York wrongful death trial law. Six of our attorneys have achieved AV Preeminent status with Martindale-Hubbell representing the highest ranking for ethical standards and legal ability. Five of our attorneys have been included in Super Lawyers in the New York Metropolitan Area as published in the Magazine Section of the New York Times. Our firm is listed among the Best Lawyers in the State of New York and is listed among the Best Law Firms in the New York Metro area by US News & World Report.Experienced Attorneys in Litigating New York Wrongful Death Claims
The loss of a loved one is never easy to cope with, especially when the death is unexpected. In addition to the emotional hardships caused by the sudden loss of a loved one, families may also face considerable financial strain. In some cases, the sudden death of an individual can cause their family to lose an essential income. Furthermore, victim's families may face high medical bills that the deceased incurred prior to death. As a result, victim's families may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit if their loved one's death was caused by another party's negligence. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs, & Kool, our New York wrongful death lawyers understand significant emotional and financial strain caused by an unexpected death. We realize that the sudden loss of a loved one will be one of the most difficult and stressful times of our clients' lives. While we can't alleviate the sense of pain and loss caused by an unexpected death, we do our best to help lessen the financial burden by pursuing maximum compensation in court. In fact, our attorneys have recovered over $100 million in wrongful death cases
Has someone you love unexpectedly died? Do you believe their death was the cause of another individual's negligence? If so, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. For a free review of your legal options, call 212.406.1700 or contact us online. Our cases are taken on a contingent fee basis. If we accept your case, there is no fee unless we recover monetary damages.Do You Have Grounds for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim's family must be able to prove that the responsible party acted negligently. For the responsible party to have acted negligently, they must have had a duty of care-a legal responsibility to act with a degree of caution when performing potentially dangerous actions-to the victim. The responsible party acted negligently if they violated their duty of care. Additionally, the victim's family must be able to prove that the responsible party's negligence was the direct cause of death. Furthermore, the victim's death must have inflicted either economic or non-economic damages on their family.
The attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool handle all forms of wrongful death claims, including but not limited to:
- Premises Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Construction Accidents
- Vehicle Accidents
- Police Brutality
- Nursing home deaths
- Fatal drunk driving accidents
- Infant deaths
- Accidental death dismemberment
- Work fatalities
New York wrongful death claims arise when an individual dies as a result of the negligent act of another person or entity. As in other types of cases, "common law" negligence principles apply, whereby the responsible party can be found liable if it is proven that the death was caused due to the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances of the accident. A wrongful death could occur through any type of accident, including but not limited to an automobile accident, construction accident, fall down accident, or medical malpractice.
Retaining a top notch New York lawyer to institute a wrongful death lawsuit is of paramount importance not only to prove liability against one or more defendants, but also because of New York's restrictive and nuanced laws as they relate to what monetary damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action.
The most striking limitation on recovery of damages in New York relates to the fact that New York State generally does not permit recovery of damages due to the emotional distress suffered by family members as a result of the death of a loved one. Inasmuch as each State has its own wrongful death laws, New York is in the minority as one of few States that does not permit monetary damages for the emotional distress for the loss of a loved one. Our clients are often shocked when learning of this limitation. Sadly, some attorneys who hold themselves out as "wrongful death' attorneys are not themselves aware of these limitations. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool we view these laws as antiquated and unfair, and are active in lobbying the New York state legislature to try to get these laws changed, and to allow compensation for the emotional distress caused by the loss of a loved one. Concurrently, we appreciate the importance of having the cutting edge expertise necessary to maximize compensation for monetary damages that are currently recoverable for wrongful death actions in New York State. In some cases, however, it should be noted that there is an important exception in New York State to the general rule which precludes compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress. This is commonly known as the "zone of danger" exception. The exception applies if the family member was actually present and/or observed the accident which caused the death of his/her loved family member. In such cases that the aggrieved family member was in fact in this zone of danger at the time of the accident, he/she may be entitled to a legal recovery for the emotional distress caused by the negligence of the Defendant. The "zone of danger rule" is yet another example of New York's nuanced and multifaceted wrongful death laws, which makes the cholce of one's attorney especially important.
Wrongful death cases in New York are governed by The New York Estates, Powers and Trust Laws (also known as the EPTL). Section 5-4.1 of the EPTL is entitled "Action by personal representative for wrongful act, neglect or default causing death of decedent." This statute authorizes a representative of the estate (usually a surviving family member) to bring a legal action for wrongful death. In simpler terms, a family member is customarily appointed administrator of the decedent's estate and is in effect the Plaintiff bringing the lawsuit. However, it should be noted that the person appointed administrator is not determinative of how much compensation they or other family members may be entitled to as a result of the death of a loved one. Section 5-4.3 of the EPTL governs the type of losses that can result in monetary damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute is a pecuniary loss statute, which means that all allowable damages under this statute are limited to, and measured by, economic loss.
The most common example of economic loss suffered in a wrongful death action involves the death of a loved one who financially supported the family. In such instances, our law firm routinely will retain an economist to opine on the economic loss that is suffered by the next of kin. The calculation of economic loss can be more complicated than one might expect, since it is not as simple as merely determining what a wage earner would have earned during his/her life expectancy, had he/she survived. Wage increases must be considered, as well benefits that the family may have lost such as medical, pension and/or annuity benefits. Moreover, a personal consumption analysis must be made by the economist hired by your law firm. Indeed, the loss to the family is not the entire income of the decedent, but rather the income of the victim less any amount that they would have personally consumed. It is much better to address such issues head on, rather than leaving them to the Defendant to undermine the credibility of your client's own expert (Plaintiff's expert) for failing to perform a complete and accurate analysis.
Although the Estates powers and Trust Law limits losses to pecuniary or economic damages, a family's economic damages can be measured in other ways beyond the deceased's income. For example, there is an economic value of the loss of services of the decedent to the surviving spouse. A jury can evaluate such services and assign an economic loss to it, which serves as a measure of economic damages that can be recovered by the surviving spouse. Similarly, if the decedent had children, there is an economic value that can and should be evaluated to determine the value of the loss of parental guidance suffered by the decedent's children. Monetary awards in such cases usually are heavily dependent on the age of the surviving child. For instance, the loss of parental guidance to a 2 year old is typically greater than the same loss to an 18 year old. (However, contrary to misconceptions among lawyers inexperienced in this area of New York Law, children of any age have a legal right to monetary recovery for the loss of the advice and care of a parent who suffered wrongful death).
The family of an individual who has suffered a wrongful death may also be able to recoup compensation for pain and suffering. This cause of action is outside of the EPTL, and thus does not involve economic loss. Rather, it involves monetary compensation to the decedent (and thus to his/her estate) for any pain and suffering they endured prior to death, as a result of the negligence of the Defendant. The period of time of pain and suffering could be seconds, minutes, hours, days or even years. Our law firm typically hires forensic medical experts in such cases, especially when there are serious issues as to the length and nature of any pain and suffering that occurred prior to death. The length and nature of any suffering are the focus of any jury in determining this aspect of damages, and thus it is imperative to prepare to prove the same for purposes of any settlement and for a potential trial. Again, it is extremely important to thoroughly and meticulously prepare a wrongful death case, and to hire all appropriate experts for all areas of potential loss.Victims’ Families Should Contact an Attorney Immediately
Due to the statute of limitations, it is important for families of deceased individuals to seek the counsel of an attorney as soon as possible. In most cases, the statute of limitations for New York wrongful death lawsuits is two years. The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the amount of time an individual has to file a claim following an incident. Failure to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires can result in victim's families being forever barred from the compensation they may be eligible to receive. As a result, it is imperative that victim's families hire an attorney who will handle their claims in a timely manner. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool our wrongful death lawyers have decades of combined experience handling wrongful death claims. We understand all of the time constraints posed by the statute of limitations. Our attorneys file all of our clients' claims in a timely manner so that they may be eligible to receive compensation for the damages caused by their loved one's death.
If someone you love has unexpectedly died, Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool will give you a free consultation to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit. To see if compensation is available to you, call 212.406.1700 or fill out our case review form.