What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

author by Marni F. Schlesinger on May. 31, 2024

Accident & Injury Wrongful Death 

Summary: A wrongful death lawsuit in New York seeks compensation for the death caused by negligence or intentional harm. Filed by a personal representative, it covers medical costs, lost wages, and more, within a two-year limit.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought by the surviving family members or representatives of a deceased person who died as a result of someone else's negligence or intentional actions. In New York, these lawsuits aim to compensate the decedent’s beneficiaries financially and hold the responsible parties accountable.


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

In New York, the personal representative of the deceased person's estate is the only one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This representative is typically named in the deceased’s will or appointed by the court if no representative is designated. However, the compensation awarded is for the benefit of the deceased's family members, which usually includes:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Other dependents


Grounds for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

To establish a wrongful death claim in New York, the following elements must be proven:

  1. Death of a Person: There must be a death of a human being.
  2. Negligence or Intentional Harm: The death was caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or entity.
  3. Surviving Family Members: There are surviving family members who have suffered a financial loss as a result of the death.
  4. Appointing a Personal Representative: A personal representative must be appointed to manage the estate and bring the lawsuit.


Common Causes of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death can result from various situations, including:


Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In New York, the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:

  • Funeral and Burial Expenses: Costs associated with the funeral and burial.
  • Medical Expenses: Costs for medical treatment related to the deceased’s final injury or illness.
  • Lost Wages and Benefits: Compensation for the income and benefits the deceased would have provided.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death.
  • Loss of Inheritance: Potential inheritance lost due to premature death.
  • Loss of Parental Care: Compensation for the loss of guidance, nurturing, and care from a deceased parent.


Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in New York

In New York, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death. It is crucial to adhere to this timeframe as failing to do so may result in the loss of the right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation.


How to Proceed with a Wrongful Death Claim

  1. Consult an Attorney: Seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney to evaluate the case.
  2. Investigate the Claim: The attorney will investigate the circumstances of the death, gather evidence, and identify liable parties.
  3. File the Lawsuit: The estate's personal representative will file the wrongful death lawsuit in the appropriate court.
  4. Litigation or Settlement: Depending on the circumstances and negotiations, the case may proceed to trial or be settled out of court.



A wrongful death lawsuit in New York is a critical legal remedy for families who have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence or intentional actions. While no amount of money can replace a lost family member, these lawsuits can provide financial support and a sense of justice for the bereaved.


If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the complex legal process and help secure the compensation your family deserves.

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