If the wrongdoing of another person has caused the death of a loved one, you are probably experiencing tremendous grief and loss and looking for answers. Historically, the law offered no remedy for family members of a decedent who suffered a wrongful death. Fortunately, times have changed. In the United States, all states have now enacted “wrongful death” statutes. Family members of a person who suffered death from the negligence or wrongdoing of another can now seek justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit provides the relatives of a person who suffered a wrongful death a means to recover money resulting from the person’s death. The first wrongful death statute was enacted in 1847 in New York. The New York wrongful death statute, and those of the other fifty states, have their historical roots in Lord Campbell’s Act of 1846, a British law intended to remedy the injustice of the absence of any remedy for the death of a family member due to wrongful death.
In most states, the wrongful death statute, or related “survival statute”, provide that the claims held by the decedent prior to his death, including pain and suffering, “survive” the decedent’s death and can be prosecuted by surviving family members. This is very important because the decedent’s personal claims, including pain and suffering, may be very valuable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the claims that can be brought by family members for their own damages are limited in many states. For example, in many states a family member can only recover damages for “pecuniary loss” (economic loss) caused by the decedent’s wrongful death. However, in most states, “pecuniary loss” can include a money award for “loss of services” that the decedent may have provided to a spouse or child, including loss of affection, companionship, marital services, guidance, care, tutelage, advice, counsel, education and training.
In a wrongful death lawsuit filed in the majority of states in the U.S., family members are not permitted to recover for their own grief or mental anguish resulting from a decedent’s wrongful death. The fact that most states do not allow these damages is shocking, considering that it is undeniable that most people who suffer the loss of a close family member suffer significant grief and mental anguish, particularly those that have been victimized by a wrongful death.
The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg represent families in a wide range of wrongful death lawsuits including those arising from asbestos exposure, toxic substances, defective products, construction accidents, and suicides involving the negligence of colleges and universities.
If your family has been the victim of a wrongful death, it is important to consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine what your rights are under the wrongful death statute that governs your case. As discussed above, the wrongful death statutes are different in each state and therefore a wrongful death lawyer can explain the law that will apply to your case. All wrongful death statutes have time limitations known as statutes of limitations, so it is important to act quickly in obtaining legal advice.
The wrongful death attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP (“LK”) have won landmark verdicts and settlements in wrongful death lawsuits in New York, New Jersey, and in other states, for more than 25 years. LK has obtained the largest wrongful death jury verdict ever upheld on appeal in an asbestos case. LK was named Plaintiff’s Product Liability Law Firm of the Year for 2013 by the U.S. News and World Report based in large part on its work on behalf of victims of wrongful death in New York and New Jersey and nationwide.
To contact LK, call 1-800-637-6529 or submit an online inquiry using the email form or live chat on this website.