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What you should know about a wrongful death lawsuit

It was the worst day of your life when you got the phone call that a car accident had claimed your husband's life. The driver had been texting and ran a red light. New York courts convicted the other driver of negligence, but a fine paid to the state and a few years in jail is not enough.

What are you supposed to do now that he is gone? You have lost your partner and you are drowning under funeral expenses and the loss of half of your household income. How are you going to be able to continue supporting yourself and your children on your own?

While the criminal court focuses on punishing the wrongdoer, the civil court offers an opportunity to sue the driver for monetary damages. As the representative for your husband's estate, you have the right to bring a wrongful death suit before the New York civil court. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the court system while pursuing your lawsuit.

Read below for additional information on a wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit

In order for you to have a successful lawsuit, you have to prove that certain circumstances existed. First, there must be the death of a human being. Second, the death must have been caused by a negligent act or with intent to cause injury. Your husband's death by a distracted driver who has been convicted of negligence more than likely meets these two qualifications.

The law also requires that there are family members that are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death. Since the loss of your partner has reduced your household income by more than half, this should meet this standard. Lastly, the decedent's estate must have appointed a personal representative.


The court determines damages to be awarded based on the financial injury you and your family has suffered. The court will consider the loss of income, services, prospect of inheritance, as well as funeral and medical expenses that resulted from the accident. The damage award may also include an additional amount of interest from your husband's date of death.

When determining loss, the court will consider your husband's age, character, earning capacity, life expectancy, and even his health and intelligence when estimating the amount of financial loss. The process to determine an award amount is quite complicated.

Bringing a lawsuit for a wrongful death before the New York civil court can be a complex process. Before you begin, it is important to understand the requirements of the state.

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