Calculating Wrongful Death Damages in New York

Getting compensation after the death of a loved one can be difficult.  No amount of money is ever going to be enough to pay for what happened, but certain areas of compensation can help you and your family move forward.

In general, there are two main areas of damages you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit in New York: damages that the victim could have claimed in an injury suit and damages for the surviving family members.  Damages the victim could have claimed often include compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering while damages for the family include things like funeral and burial costs and damages related to lost income and household services.

For help with a wrongful death claim in New York, call The Martello Firm at (914) 685-6950.  Our Westchester wrongful death lawyers offer free case reviews.

Areas of Compensation Available in a New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As mentioned, there are two major types of damages that you can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit: damages for the deceased victim and damages for the surviving family.  The damages that the family can claim for the deceased victim include the kinds of damages that they would have been able to claim if they’d lived to file a personal injury claim.  This primarily involves compensation for their medical bills and the pain and suffering they experienced before their death.  The other damages that the family can file suit for are often more complex:

Funeral and Burial Costs

The reasonable cost of laying your loved one to rest is often an important area of damages to claim in your wrongful death lawsuit.  In general, the damages you can claim are required to be “reasonable” costs of burial and funeral.  That means that you might not be compensated for things like traveling to a far-off destination to spread a loved one’s ashes, but it should cover any reasonable, foreseeable costs such as the cost of using funeral home services.

Lost Income

If your loved one was responsible for any level of income for your family, you can usually claim compensation for these lost wages.  If the person who died was the sole provider of income for a family, then that family will need replacement wages to make up for that loss.

These wages can be difficult to calculate, but financial experts can be hired to project these damages fairly.  This can often include a calculation as to how much longer the deceased would have worked before retirement in their natural life, what raises they might have achieved along the way, and what other income might have been lost because of their death.  These payments are essential to your family moving forward, so make sure to consult with your Yonkers wrongful death lawyer about the value of these damages.

Lost Household Services

People play many roles in their families, and the loss of someone who helps take care of the home can leave a family with immense difficulties.  In some cases – especially where surviving household members go to work or school all day – the family may need to spend additional money on replacement services such as lawn care, cleaning, food, or transportation.  These household services lost because of the death of a loved one can be claimed as damages in many wrongful death cases.  The damages are usually calculated by looking at the total cost of reasonable replacement services, so keep track of any bills or payments in this area.

Lost Care, Counsel, Etc.

Especially when it comes to losing a parent or a spouse, there are many things that the deceased provided that cannot have a price value assigned to them.  The care that a parent provides for a young child, the trips to soccer practice, the advice on how to live your life – these things might have no clear monetary value, but damages can still be claimed for these harms in many cases.  However, it is important to note that “loss of companionship” itself cannot be claimed as damages in this kind of lawsuit.


It is possible that families can seek compensation for grief counseling and other mental health care brought about by their loved one’s death.  However, damages cannot be paid directly for the surviving family’s mental health effects, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish of the family.  However, the deceased’s pre-death pain and suffering can be claimed as damages, so talk to a New Rochelle personal injury lawyer about how to calculate those damages.

How Are Damages Calculated in a Wrongful Death Case in New York?

As discussed above, some damages are simply added up and claimed at their total value.  Other damages, especially things like lost wages and other financial effects, might be much more complicated to calculate and could require the help of experienced financial experts to calculate the costs.  In any case, the actual process of calculating damages is far more complex than can be discussed in this article.

In most cases, your attorney will be responsible for researching damages, hiring experts as needed, calculating the growth of monetary damages over time, and coming up with a total present value of damages for your case.  However, it is important that you provide any documentation you can, such as medical bills, records of child care costs, funeral expense reports, and other financial records related to the damages your family suffered.

If punitive damages can be claimed in your case, calculating these damages is often more of an art than a science.  Punitive damages can often be claimed to punish those responsible for a death by having them pay additional damages, which are often claimed as a multiple of the other “compensatory” damages.

For a Free Case Review, Call Our New York Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

If you lost a loved one in an accident in New York, call the White Plains personal injury attorneys at The Martello Law Firm today for a free case review and for help understanding what your case might be worth.  Our number is (914) 685-6950.

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