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Brooklyn Wrongful Death

Sally and Sam were driving home from the movies when Joe ran a red light at a high speed, slamming into Sally and Sam's car. Sam did not survive the accident. It was determined that Joe was intoxicated. When a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or intentional act of another person or entity, under New York law the surviving members of the victim's family may sue for "wrongful death." Wrongful death claims involve all types of fatal accidents including auto accident, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, or product liability cases. Individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently or intentionally. If you are in need of a personal injury lawyer because a family member passed away in an accident due to the intentional act or due to the negligence of another person or entity, it is critical that you contact an experienced Brooklyn wrongful death lawyer who will explain to you the process for holding the responsible party financially accountable. You should do so quickly as there are time limits that you must follow when you file a wrongful death claim.

Who may sue for wrongful death

Under New York law, only a decedent's personal representative may file a claim for wrongful death. A personal representative is typically the person the decedent named as executor in his or her will. Otherwise, the personal representative would be the person named by the court to serve as such. The personal representative would file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the real parties in interest. The real parties in interest would be the decedent's beneficiaries or heirs. Typically, the real parties in interest would include the decedent's surviving spouse and children, but may also include the decedent's parents, siblings and other relatives.

Recoverable damages

Depending on whose negligence caused the accident that resulted in the wrongful death, the family of the deceased may recover a variety of damages. If family members file a wrongful death lawsuit they may recover medical expenses related to the injury that ultimately led to the victim's death. Funeral and burial expenses are compensable. The family may be compensated for the loss of financial support that the victim would have contributed to the family during his or her lifetime. In some cases the plaintiffs may recover damages for benefits lost such as medical insurance and pension benefits. Recovery for loss of companionship refers being compensated for the comfort and care that the deceased would have provided.

However, if the victim died in a workplace accident then under New York workers' compensation law the decedent's survivors are entitled to workers' compensation death benefits and cannot sue the employer in court to recover additional compensation. Death benefits include burial expenses as well as a weekly benefit that is equal to a percentage of the decedent's wages and is subject to a cap. On the other hand, even if the accident occurred at work, if the negligent party was not the employer but a third party the victim's family may be able to sue the third party in a personal injury lawsuit for compensation in addition to workers' compensation benefits.

It is important to file a wrongful death claim as quickly as possible as New York's statute of limitations is generally only two years after the death.


In Gardner v. State (N.Y.Ct.Cl., 2012) Brandon Gardner was traveling along Route 81 Park Street Bridge in Syracuse. Earlier that day it had snowed and there had been accumulating snow over the past few days. A witness saw Gardner hit a slippery spot on the bridge and lose control of his vehicle. Gardner's vehicle hit the snow bank on the side of the road, rode up the bank and finally fell off the bridge to the road below. Gardner suffered multiple injuries including brain contusions, rib fractures, pulmonary lacerations, and a transverse laceration of the aorta. He did not survive. The court found the State of New York liable for the accident, citing that the way it plowed the bridge cause the snow banks that ultimately lead to Gardner's death.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Wrongful death cases can be complicated. It is not always easy to determine who is legally responsible for a victim's death. In some cases more than one person is ultimately responsible. Furthermore there may be complex procedural rules and timelines that must be followed. To make sure that your case is properly handled it is critical that you are represented by attorneys with experience handling wrongful death cases. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff is experienced in handling claims involving wrongful death cases related to construction accidents, car accidents, product liability, and medical malpractice. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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