It’s never easy to plan a funeral for a dearly departed family member. When the death is sudden and could have been avoided, it can be very difficult. Arguments among family members are common during times of great stress. After all, everyone has their method of dealing with stress, and disagreements emerge when people have different perspectives.
Can A Victim’s Family File A Lawsuit Over A Wrongful Death?
Yes, in some states the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases of wrongful death, each state has its own set of regulations to follow. Depending on the state, different laws apply to various kinds of cases. In New York, a family member who is not the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is not permitted to file a wrongful death claim in court.
Who Can File A Lawsuit For Wrongful Death?
While the rules of filing a wrongful death action differ by state, all of them allow for a member of the decedent’s immediate family to do so. Lawsuits for wrongful death are typically filed by the surviving spouse of the deceased. However, if there is no surviving spouse, an adult child can file the action. The parents of the deceased person usually bring a wrongful death claim if the person was a minor kid.
Some states permit a domestic partner or person in a civil union to file the case on the other person’s behalf. Many states allow more distant family members to pursue a wrongful death claim in the event of an unmarried, adult decedent. This includes siblings, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles. New York law allows certain surviving relatives to sue for wrongful death.
Under New York, Consolidated Law Section 4-1.1, a wrongful death claim may be brought by a decedent’s heirs, including his or her children, parents, spouse, or personal representative. In New York, typically, siblings and distant relatives of the deceased do not have the authority to file a wrongful death case unless they have also been designated as a guardian or authorized representatives.
However, you and your loved ones must cooperate if you plan to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. You will need to collect evidence of liability and damages, but you also must be careful not to make any crucial mistakes along the route. Some of the most typical types of family disputes that can emerge, as well as common errors that can compromise a wrongful death claim, are as follows:
Delaying The Proceedings
Even though you have thousands of administrative responsibilities, you shouldn’t delay calling an attorney. The most crucial evidence you’ll need to collect could be time-sensitive, so it’s best to start looking for assistance as soon as possible. The typical statute of limitations is three years in many states, however, certain circumstances may significantly reduce this time frame. For instance, the statute of limitations for filing a claim against the government is often only two years.
Giving A Public Address
Newspapers and TV stations in your area may contact your loved ones to get their take on the accident if it received media attention. While planning to take action, it is preferable to remain silent. There’s no telling how your words will be taken or what effect they’ll have in court. As your case progresses, you should ask your loved ones to refrain from giving interviews to the media. A kind but firm “no comment” will signal to the media that you have no interest in talking about the problem.
Individually Pursuing The Responsible Party
If you choose a good law firm, they will have the means to help you build a solid case. They will also guide you through the entire process while defending your family’s interests at all times.
Not Choosing The Right Representative
Though several people may be eligible for compensation if your family’s claim is successful, only one person can file a lawsuit on their behalf. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate files a lawsuit for wrongful death in New York. This person should have been mentioned in the victim’s will or other estate plans. Otherwise, before starting the proceedings, you must ask the court to designate someone.
Limits On How Many Claims A Family Can File
It’s not uncommon for family members to disagree about who should pursue legal action for wrongful death. As a result of these issues, many claims may be submitted on behalf of the deceased. Most courts, however, will only hear one wrongful death complaint on behalf of the deceased. When many claims for the same decedent’s wrongful death are filed, the court will typically combine them into a single case.
What If There Is A Last Will And Testament?
Who is eligible to initiate a wrongful death claim sometimes depends on whether or not the deceased person left a will. Personal representatives or executors are often appointed by the court to manage an estate if the deceased individual left a will. In most jurisdictions, only a deceased person’s representative or executor of a will can launch a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits can become more difficult to file when there is a will. An immediate family member may still be eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit even if the executor of the deceased named is not a relative. However, in such situations, a family member may sue the executor of the will to have the legal standing to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased.
Process Of Lawsuit
A lawsuit may be necessary if a dispute develops about the validity of a will or the distribution of a decedent’s assets. If the beneficiaries and the estate’s executor cannot agree on the contents of the will, the probate process could go on for years. In such a case, the wrongful death lawsuit may be hampered by statutes of limitations that limit how long after a person’s death a family can claim damages.
When To File A Wrongful Death Claim
Each state has its statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, so determining who is eligible to do so as soon as possible is essential. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to pursue a wrongful death case. New York State’s wrongful death statute of limitations requires that you must file a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of the death.
Consulting An Attorney
Seek legal counsel on how to proceed with a wrongful death case if you believe the death of a loved one was caused by the negligence of a business or individual. The legal proceedings following a loved one’s death are difficult, but working with a team of experienced NYC wrongful death lawyers can help simplify the process.