The sudden death of a loved one can lead to significant grief for friends and family of the deceased. Financial stresses can compound this emotional toll if the survivor depends on the deceased for financial support. A wrongful death lawsuit aims to address these and other tangible and intangible losses. Not every person who is affected by a decedent’s passing will realize any compensation for their losses. New York law limits the class of individuals who can pursue such a claim in court. Please continue reading as our wrongful death lawyer explains.
Why the Law Limits Wrongful Death Plaintiffs
It may seem heartless to say that some individuals hurt by the wrongful death of another cannot obtain compensation for their losses. Grief is no less real just because it was your friend who died, not a family member.
One of the reasons the law limits the type of individuals who can pursue a wrongful death claim is to keep the class of potential plaintiffs small and manageable. An at-fault party that killed a prominent and well-liked individual might have hundreds or thousands of individuals claiming compensation for their grief and emotional pain.
Wrongful Death Plaintiffs Are Primarily Immediate Family Members
The law in New York aims to recognize and prioritize the losses, both emotional and financial, of those closest to the deceased. Therefore, the people who can file wrongful death lawsuits and pursue compensation with a wrongful death lawyer include the following:
The Decedent’s Spouse
The primary plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit will be the deceased’s spouse, regardless of when the couple married.
You can also pursue compensation through a wrongful death suit if you or the deceased had initiated but not finalized divorce proceedings before the decedent’s passing. However, New York law does not allow for common-law marriages, so you may not be able to sue for compensation if you and the decedent never legally married.
The Decedent’s Children
If a decedent has no living spouse, then any children of the decedent will be next in line to file a wrongful death lawsuit. As a decedent’s child, you would have that right even if your parents were not married at the time of your birth or your parent’s death.
If a child is a minor at the time of the parent’s death, then the court will appoint a representative to pursue the child’s legal rights on their behalf.
The Decedent’s Parents and Siblings
If there are no living children or living spouse of a decedent, then the decedent’s parents could file a wrongful death claim. This ability would pass to the decedent’s siblings if there were no living spouse, children, or parents.
If none of these groups exist, then the representative handling the decedent’s estate would file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate.
Contact a New York Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If your loved one has died due to another’s negligence, the wrongful death lawyers at the Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC can assist you. Call for your free, no-obligation case evaluation, and let us demonstrate our ability to provide exceptional legal representation in and out of court.