Flower on a tombstone after a death of a loved one.

Understanding the Legal Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Dealing with a loved one’s death is painful, but it’s even harder if they died due to someone’s negligent or intentional actions. However, you can reclaim a small amount of justice by filing a claim for wrongful death. 

With that said, the legal process of filing a wrongful death claim and pursuing monetary recovery can be overwhelming, but an experienced personal injury lawyer can assist every step of the way.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action someone can file to recover compensation for the death of their loved one. 

Wrongful death falls under personal injury law, a branch of law that helps victims seek justice and monetary recovery for the wrongs done unto them. However, rather than the victim filing a claim against the at-fault party like in a normal personal injury suit, a wrongful death suit is typically brought by the deceased victim’s family. This helps the victim’s loved ones receive much-needed assistance and well-deserved justice.

Determining Whether You Have a Claim for Wrongful Death

Generally, you can only file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one’s death resulted from another party’s negligent or intentional actions. 

Some circumstances in which you can file a suit include but are not limited to:

It’s worth noting that in many of these cases, the victim would have had a valid claim against the responsible party had they survived.

Who has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Every state handles wrongful death claims differently, including who has the right to file a lawsuit. Many states give family members the right, which means that spouses, children, and parents can file a lawsuit for compensation. 

In New York, the personal representative of the victim’s estate is legally entitled to file the claim. They are the ones who file the lawsuit, with the proceeds of a successful claim benefiting the victim’s family and dependents. 

Personal representatives are usually named in a person’s will. However, if the victim died without an estate plan, a family member can petition the court to be named the personal representative of the estate. 

Initiating a Claim

To file a wrongful death claim, you must file your petition with the court. Then, you must have a third party serve the defendant with copies of your court documents as notice of the impending lawsuit.

Once the defendant receives these documents, they must file a formal response with the court that either admits or denies your allegations.

After you’ve filed your complaint and the defendant has filed their response, the lawsuit can proceed. If the defendant fails to file a response, you may be able to seek a default judgment against them.

Time Restrictions for Filing Lawsuits

If you believe your loved one has died due to another’s negligence or wrongful actions, it’s essential to take action as quickly as possible. The law imposes time restraints on a personal representative’s ability to file a wrongful death claim. 

In New York, you only have two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a claim in court. Once the two years have passed, it is unlikely that you’ll have the opportunity to pursue compensation.

Seek Help From an Attorney

Wrongful death claims can be challenging to navigate on your own. When you’re ready to discuss your case, consult with a personal injury attorney at Kohan Law Group. We have years of experience representing clients throughout Nassau County, Long Island. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. It is essential to consult with a qualified attorney regarding your specific situation and circumstances.