New York City Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Brooklyn & All of NYC
There is nothing more difficult in life than unexpectedly losing a loved one. Knowing that another person or party caused your loved one’s death can make the healing process even more difficult—but justice is possible.
At Rubenstein & Rynecki, we represent individuals and families who have suffered unimaginable tragedy due to the careless, reckless, or wrongful conduct of others. Our New York City wrongful death attorneys have been fighting for the rights of our clients since 1972, providing compassionate, personalized support and aggressive advocacy throughout the civil litigation process. We understand what you have been through, as well as the challenges you are currently facing, and we have what it takes to guide you through the process of seeking justice and the fair recovery you are owed.
On This Page:
- What Is “Wrongful” Death?
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
- How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
- How We Help Prove Your Case
- Our History of Success
- Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
What Is “Wrongful” Death?
In simple terms, wrongful death occurs any time an individual dies due to the negligent or intentional conduct of another person, company, or entity.
Under New York law, there are five elements required to prove that a death was “wrongful:”
- A death occurred
- The death was caused by the wrongful conduct of another party (the “defendant”)
- The person who died (the “decedent”) would have had grounds for a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived
- The decedent is survived by at least one person who suffered losses due to the death
- The estate suffered recoverable damages
Notably, although a wrongful death claim can be brought after the death of a child, the New York Court of Appeals has ruled that the state does not consider wrongful death lawsuits involving fetuses who die before birth, even when these deaths result from the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of others.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
Wrongful death claims must be filed by a person who acts as a representative of survivors who suffer as a result of the death of their loved one (most commonly the decedent’s family members). Often, the person filing the claim is the executor of the decedent’s estate or a direct relative. If the person died without a will or without naming an executor or representative of the estate, the court will appoint one.
Although the personal representative or executor of the estate must be the one to initiate the wrongful death action, these claims are brought on behalf of certain surviving individuals. These individuals are the ones who can recover monetary compensation for their losses associated with the death, along with the estate itself.
Here are some examples of people who could pursue damages through a wrongful death claim:
- The decedent’s immediate family: Spouses, children, and the parents of children who are not married can all recover damages in a wrongful death suit. Adopted children are included as immediate family members.
- Life partners and dependents: Anyone financially dependent on the decedent, as well as domestic/life partners have a right to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim.
- Distant family: Grandparents, brothers, and sisters are considered distant family in wrongful death claims. A common scenario would be a grandparent who is raising a child filing a claim after the wrongful death of the child.
- Anyone who suffers financially as a result of the wrongful death: This stipulation allows for people not related to the decedent by blood to obtain the funds they need so long as they were receiving financial support from the decedent.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, reach out to our New York City wrongful death attorneys at Rubenstein & Rynecki. We can meet with you to discuss your concerns and provide the personalized guidance you need.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In New York, you only have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is different from the three-year statute of limitations on most personal injury cases in the state. If you fail to file your lawsuit within two years, you will lose your right to seek compensation for your damages.
It is never a good idea to rush into a settlement, especially when the insurance company offers one immediately after the death of your loved one. Insurance companies often prey on surviving family members’ grief, pressuring them to accept low settlement offers without considering the full extent of their losses, including future damages. We encourage you to reach out to our attorneys at Rubenstein & Rynecki right away so that we can immediately begin protecting your rights and building your claim. The sooner we can get started on your case, the better.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Nothing can negate the death of your family member nor truly “compensate” you for your loss. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit, rather, is to provide the financial resources you need to handle unexpected financial and emotional losses associated with your loved one’s death. A successful claim can also provide surviving family members with a much-needed sense of justice, allowing them to heal and move forward with their lives.
In New York, eligible surviving family members and dependents can recover the following damages in wrongful death cases:
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with the decedent’s final treatment and care
- Reasonable and necessary funeral/burial expenses
- The value of lost wages/income during the decedent’s final injury/illness prior to death
- The value support and services (financial and otherwise) provided by the decedent prior to death
- Loss of inheritance, including contributions the decedent would have likely made to an inheritance had he or she lived
- The value of parental support, guidance, care, and nurturing
- Pain and suffering consciously endured by the decedent prior to death
Surviving family members and dependents can also recover 9% interest on the total damages awarded. This interest is calculated from the date of death until damages are awarded.
In New York, claimants cannot recover for their own pain, suffering, mental anguish, or loss of love, companionship, and/or support following the death of a family member. This is the case even when the decedent is a child.
How We Help Prove Your Case
No amount of monetary award can truly compensate families when a loved one dies as the result of negligent or willful actions of others, including violent or criminal acts. However, our law firm has the legal skills and knowledge to help clients in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and throughout New York City fight for the justice they deserve.
We do this by proving the following on behalf of our clients:
- Eligibility: Depending on the details of a situation, the law may potentially permit compensation for the spouse, children, parents, and siblings of the deceased based on a hierarchical structure.
- Liability: Even if the carelessness of the victim contributes to an accident, his or her dependents can pursue damages from other negligent parties, though compensation is reduced by the degree to which the victim contributed to the accident.
- Losses: The law permits dependents to pursue a wide range of damages. In addition to medical expenses relating to the injuries that led to death, eligible recipients can seek funeral expenses, lost monetary support, and even punitive damages in certain situations. The law places great discretion in the hands of the courts when determining the full value of all losses.
The experienced New York City wrongful death attorneys at Rubenstein & Rynecki conduct thorough investigations to develop the evidence needed to prove all aspects of each claim. We also have a network of investigative experts and medical specialists available when needed to help ensure we cover every detail for our clients.
We assist clients who have lost loved ones due to all types of accidents and traumatic events, including but not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Large truck and commercial vehicle collisions
- Bike and pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Boating and ferry accidents
- Subway and bus accidents
- Assault, criminal activity, and violence
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites and attacks
- Medical malpractice and nursing home abuse/neglect
- Police brutality
- Premises accidents, including fires and explosions
- Defective products
- School negligence
- Slip and falls
- Workplace accidents and on-the-job injuries
Our attorneys have been representing victims of serious accidents, as well as their families and loved ones, since 1972. We understand the law and the complexities inherent in these types of cases—and we know what it takes to go up against powerful insurance companies, product manufacturers, government agencies, and defense teams on behalf of our clients.
Our History of Success
At Rubenstein & Rynecki, we are proud of our long history of success, not simply because it shows the skill and experience of our legal team but because it demonstrates the real ways in which we have helped make a difference, both in the lives of our clients and our communities.
Some of the wrongful death results Rubenstein & Rynecki has obtained for clients include:
- $3 million for the family of an African immigrant wrongly shot and killed by a police officer during a raid on a warehouse in Chelsea
- $1.1 million for the family of a Haitian woman who died following childbirth as a result of medical malpractice
- $2 million for the family of a Jamaican woman whose death in a psychiatric ward was captured on a shocking video that depicted hospital staff ignoring her for hours
- $1.5 million for the family of a woman who died as a result of the failure to recognize and properly treat respiratory distress during labor and delivery
- $2.5 million from the City of New York to the family of United Nations security guard who died as a result of the Staten Island "Andrew J. Barberi" ferry crash
- $25 million for tots killed under a truck
- $5 million for the family of a woman who died in childbirth
- $3.7 million structured settlement for taxi crash
- $3.25 million for the victim of a police shooting killed on his wedding day
While we (nor any attorney or law firm) cannot guarantee a specific outcome in your case, we can assure you that we will do everything we can to maximize your recovery. Our attorneys will be there for you every step of the way, providing answers to your questions and advising you on how to move forward.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
We know just how difficult it is to pick yourself up after the loss of a loved one, but you can take the first step in healing and moving forward by reaching out to our law firm in Brooklyn today. When you call Rubenstein & Rynecki, we can help you set up a complimentary consultation and case evaluation with one of our wrongful death lawyers. During this initial consultation, we can address your concerns and answer any questions you may have. We can also advise you regarding your rights and options and help you determine what to do next.
Rubenstein & Rynecki offers legal services in English, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Greek, and Creole, and we do not collect any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you. If we do not secure a settlement or verdict in your case, you do not pay.