In New York, wrongful death claims can only be brought by the “personal representative” appointed to oversee a victim’s estate. Although relatives themselves may not bring such an action, unless one is acting as the personal representative, wrongful death cases can recover damages suffered on behalf of a victim’s heirs or beneficiaries, in addition to the victim’s own losses. Wrongful death claims are based on establishing a defendant’s negligence in causing a victim’s death. Negligence is shown when a defendant’s actions constitute a breach of his or her duty of reasonable care owed to the victim, which caused the victim’s death and resulted in damages to the victim’s estate and their loved ones.
Damages available in successful wrongful death cases include the costs of a victim’s funeral and burial arrangements, medical or other health expenses incurred as a result of a victim’s fatal injuries, loss of wages or benefits, loss of support and services, and loss of parental nurturing, care, and guidance for surviving children. In New York, the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of a victim’s death.