In some cases, incidents involving medical malpractice do more than cause injuries to others: they cause fatalities. When this situation occurs, surviving family members of the deceased may have a wrongful death claim against the medical professionals and entities responsible for the death. Consulting a Newburgh wrongful death lawyer soon after the fatal incident may be the most effective way to explore whether you are entitled to compensation for the loss of your loved one.

Although compensation from the responsible parties can never make up for the death of a family member, it can help make you whole, at least from an economic perspective. Damages from a wrongful death claim could provide a measure of financial stability to a family who is struggling with the loss of a loved one. A medical malpractice lawyer could analyze your situation and determine whether a wrongful death claim is a viable option for you and your family.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases

There are numerous medical situations that could result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Any incident that results in the death of a human being due to carelessness could result in a viable wrongful death claim. Circumstances that could lead to a wrongful death case include:

An experienced Newburgh attorney could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit under any of these situations. Experienced legal counsel could prove to be invaluable for the family members when seeking to hold the at-fault party accountable.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits vs. Criminal Prosecutions

It is helpful to understand the difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal prosecution. While both of these forms of legal proceedings can stem from the death of a person, each process is very different from the other.

A criminal case is undertaken by the state and handled by prosecutors. If they obtain a conviction, the person responsible for the death could face fines or jail time. While prosecutors often take the wishes of the surviving relatives into account, these relatives have no control over how the case is handled.

A civil lawsuit will not result in the at-fault person going to jail. Instead, these lawsuits seek monetary compensation from the responsible party and the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has control over these actions. While it is possible for both of these cases to occur at the same time, civil lawsuits usually defer to criminal prosecutions. The good news is that it is possible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of a Newburgh attorney even if the accused is acquitted or never charged with a crime.

Wrongful Death Claims in Newburgh

When the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of others lead to death, survivors of the decedent may have a claim for wrongful death against the responsible parties. New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law § 5-4.1 provides that the personal representatives of the estates of decedents who are survived by spouses, children, or other dependents may file actions for wrongful death against all potentially liable parties. As a local wrongful death attorney may advise, these actions are available if the decedents could have maintained personal injury actions against those parties had they survived their injuries.

The personal representatives of the estate generally have two years from the date of the death in which to file their wrongful death claims. However, if the wrongful death also resulted in criminal charges to the responsible parties, the personal representatives have one year from the termination of the criminal action in which to bring their claims.

Recoverable Losses in Wrongful Death Claims

While no amount of damages can return loved ones to their families, compensation can help ease the transition to a new life for surviving family members. One common type of damages in a wrongful death claim involves the pain and suffering that the decedents sustained before their deaths. Calculation of this type of compensation often consists of a consideration of the fear that the decedents experienced as a result of the incident, as well as any suffering before they ultimately passed away.

The other type of damages relates primarily to financial losses resulting from the wrongful death. Some of the economic fallout that a family may suffer following the death of a loved one may include:

  • Medical bills incurred as a result of the incident of malpractice
  • Funeral and burial or cremation costs
  • Loss of current and future income
  • Loss of future inheritance or assets

The amount of damages that family members can expect to receive in a wrongful death claim vary widely. Some of the factors that can impact the calculation of damages are the age of the decedents, their average life expectancies, their income at the time of death, and future earning potential. An experienced lawyer in Newburgh could be vital to accurately calculating damages in a wrongful death claim.

The Right to Recover Compensation

While it is the personal representative who must file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is the surviving relatives of the decedent who are entitled to any proceeds from the case. In fact, state law sets out specifically which relatives are entitled to the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit.

This calculation depends on which relatives survive the decedent. If the decedent has no children but is survived by a spouse, the spouse is entitled to the full amount of compensation recovered through the wrongful death lawsuit.

That is not the case if there are children of the decedent that are still alive at the time of the decedent’s passing. If there is a spouse as well as children, the spouse is entitled to $50,000 and half of any remaining settlement balance. The other half of the settlement is to be split evenly among each of the children. If there is no spouse, the children share the full amount of the settlement evenly.

If there is not a spouse or any children, the decedent’s parents are entitled to inherit. They will receive the full amount of compensation that results from the wrongful death lawsuit.

Call a Newburgh Wrongful Death Attorney for Advice

If you believe that you may be entitled to compensation due to the wrongful death of a loved one, you owe it yourself and your family to contact a Newburgh wrongful death lawyer. Getting a clear assessment of any claims that you have could be crucial to your ability to recover damages for your losses.

Due to the strict time constraints involved in filing any lawsuits, you need to consult legal counsel as quickly as possible after a preventable death occurs. Taking this step could go a long way to helping your family recover from a senseless tragedy. Call now to get started.