When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important that you get all of the damages you are entitled to. Missing out on damages could leave your family in a precarious financial situation and make it harder to continue on.
Damages are first calculated by assessing what areas of damages you can claim in the suit, as some areas are restricted or barred. Next, you will have to calculate each area of damages. Finally, you will have to determine what part of those damages you are personally entitled to, since different family members could be entitled to different shares of damages.
For help with your wrongful death lawsuit, call our Westchester wrongful death lawyers today. At The Martello Law Firm, we offer free case evaluations. Call us at (914) 685-6950.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Westchester, NY?
To be able to calculate how much your damages are worth, you first need to know what damages you are able to claim in your lawsuit. Our Yonkers wrongful death attorneys can help you go over the specific damages in your case and help you determine what areas of compensation are available, but the following are some basic rules.
First, it is important to understand that there are two separate claims you can usually bring together as part of one lawsuit to compensate you and your family after a loved one’s death. The first, a survival action, compensates the deceased victim’s estate for the damages tied to the victim’s death. This primarily includes the following:
- Medical bills the estate paid for the victim’s end-of-life care
- The victim’s pre-death lost wages while unable to work because of the injury
- The victim’s pre-death pain and suffering caused by their injury
- Funeral and burial costs paid by the estate
Second, you can file a wrongful death claim for the damages you and the rest of your surviving family claim because of the victim’s death. This compensates your family for other financial harms, primarily the following:
- Lost wages (post-death)
- Lost household services
- Lost counsel and other services.
Note that in no case can your family claim damages for their emotional distress, pain and suffering, or loss of companionship. It is unfortunate, but these damages are not available in a wrongful death lawsuit in New York.
Calculating Damages for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Westchester, NY
Now that we know the damages that we can claim, it is important to look into some details about how these damages are calculated in each area. Our Westchester person injury lawyers can go over the specifics of these damages in your case, but the general way these damages are calculated is as follows:
Damages for medical bills for a regular non-fatal injury case can be difficult to calculate in some cases because the medical care is often ongoing. In a wrongful death case, all medical care is done, so all bills should be available to help you total up these damages and claim the cost of these damages as part of your lawsuit.
Generally speaking, damages for medical care in an injury or wrongful death case can only be claimed for reasonable medical expenses. In emergency situations and critical care scenarios, some medical services might not be charged properly, and our Westchester wrongful death attorneys can help you determine what damages should have been billed to you or your loved ones in the first place. Any medical expenses your family was ultimately charged in your loved one’s end-of-life care should certainly be claimed in your wrongful death case.
Pre-death lost wages are often simple enough to calculate in many cases. If your loved one was out of work for a few days or weeks after their accident but before their death, their average wages for those missed days of work can be claimed as lost wage damages.
If your loved one suffered injuries in an accident that only turned out to be fatal years or months later, it can be harder to calculate damages. Our Mount Vernon personal injury lawyers can look into any potential disability benefits your loved one already received and determine whether there are outstanding, unpaid wages you can claim.
With ongoing lost wages after a loved one’s death, the family is often entitled to the wages their deceased loved one would have made if they could have kept working. This could include modifications based on projected pay raises and promotions. Calculating these damages often requires the help of a financial expert, which our attorneys can hire for your case.
Pre-Death Pain and Suffering
If your loved one was afraid or in pain because of their fatal injury, the estate can claim damages for this harm. Injuries where the victim was killed quickly, might have lower pain and suffering than cases where they lingered, but each case is different.
The cost of replacement services is often used to calculate how much, financially, the family lost by their loved one’s death. For instance, if a stay-at-home parent died, then the cost of a nanny might be reasonably claimed as part of your damages.
Calculating Damages for Each Beneficiary in a Westchester Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages paid to different parties might be distributed at different values or shares. First, it is important to recognize that damages claimed as part of the victim’s estate are paid back into the estate at their full value, and then the estate is distributed according to the victim’s will. If they died without a will, NY law gives a default distribution scheme to use instead.
If medical bills or funeral expenses were paid by a specific family member, they can claim those damages at their full value in the wrongful death lawsuit instead of paying them back through the estate.
Other damages paid to the surviving family are paid in order of priority, with the spouse and children primarily benefitting. If the victim had no spouse or children, then other family members might benefit. Talk to your New Rochelle personal injury lawyers about this distribution.
Call Our Westchester Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
For a free case evaluation, call the White Plains personal injury attorneys at The Martello Law Firm today at (914) 685-6950.