Losing a loved one is one of the most confronting experiences in life. When the death was preventable, the sense of loss can seem even more acute.

While it will never bring your loved one back, if the death was the fault of the negligent or reckless actions of another party, you may be able to seek damages through a wrongful death claim.

Compensation can at least help families deal with the financial consequences of a preventable death in the family.

However, obtaining the damages you deserve is not always straightforward as the burden of proof is high and there are strict legal procedures to follow.

What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is a claim made by the close family members of a deceased person against an individual, company or other entity that has acted negligently or intended to do harm to their loved one.

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim

It essentially holds another party responsible for the death and results in the award of damages to the family.

Often, these cases are brought against medical institutions for avoidable deaths when a loved one is in their care. 

However, wrongful death lawsuits can be made against drivers in car accidents, employers, public authorities or other entities.

Note that, according to New York law, no wrongful death action can be brought against a public authority or public benefit corporation unless it has first been served a notice of claim.

What types of damages can be recovered from a wrongful death claim?

Successful wrongful death claims in New York can result in significant damages being awarded to the family of the deceased.

The courts may award compensation for:

  • Medical expenses prior to death 
  • Pain and suffering prior to death
  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of financial support and services to the family
  • Loss of future inheritance to the family
  • Funeral expenses

In New York, damages are awarded to the immediate family members: surviving spouses and children first, followed by the deceased’s parents if there is no spouse, children or grandchildren. If no parents are alive, the brothers and sisters of the deceased may receive the award.

Priority is given to the surviving spouse and children, who may receive all or part of the award. 

Eligibility to file for a wrongful death claim 

To file a wrongful death claim in New York, you will normally need legal representation (please find our contact details below). 

The burden of proof is high and cases can become complex, involving the opinion of medical professionals and other experts.

In the lawsuit, the family members of the deceased person must:

  • Prove that the death of their loved one was caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party
  • Show that the wrongful conduct/negligence could have been the subject of a lawsuit to recover damages if their loved one hadn’t died
  • Demonstrate that they are suffering specific damages as a result of the death

It is necessary for a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to be present because the wrongful death lawsuit is made in the name of the deceased, not the family members.

However, in New York, any of the following individuals may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party:

  • The deceased person’s spouse
  • The deceased person’s children
  • The deceased person’s parents
  • The personal representative for the estate of the deceased person

If a relative brings the case, they must be appointed by the court as the personal representative for the deceased’s estate before they can bring the case.

What’s the procedure for filing a wrongful death claim?

The procedure for filing a wrongful death claim depends on the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.

In New York, the lawyers at Sinel & Olesen PLLC have helped many local families file wrongful death claims.

We gather the facts of your case, start preparing your claim and take on the role of liaison with the insurance company. 

If no out-of-court settlement is possible, we will manage the litigation process and guide you through the court processes.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years, so you must file your lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death.

Contact our NYC wrongful death lawyers today

As you have seen, wrongful death cases can be complicated and challenging. 

The lawyers at Sinel & Olesen will help you get started with a free consultation to see whether you have a valid case.

Contact us to Receive a Free Case Evaluation


My attorney was meticulous, intelligent, and had an exceptional demeanor with the judge and jurors. When the Jury verdict was returned in our favor I hugged my lawyer and cried. It wasn’t just the money that was so satisfying, it was being in the Courtroom with the doctor and their lawyers when the Judge told them the jury found them responsible.

France P.

We were not only pleased with the monetary award, but to see these facilities held accountable, we finally had some closure. I would recommend Sinel & Olesen, PLLC, to any family with a case involving bedsores or medical issues against a nursing home or hospital.

Lisle B.

Elliot Sinel was our trial attorney and our whole family watched the jury trial unfold for two weeks. Watching our lawyer cross exam the defendant doctors and nurses and exposing their neglect in the care for our father gave us all a great sense of satisfaction. The jury awarded us a tremendous sum of money and we all felt vindicated…

Terrence H.

Sinel & Olesen, PLLC, never told me to settle, instead they brought the case to trial and combined, a jury gave us close to a million dollars. I was very impressed by the trial attorney and the medical expert surgeon that my lawyers brought to court to testify.

Suzanne F.

Before the case went to trial, Elliot Sinel convinced the insurance company for the nursing home to pay us a large award. My sisters and I always knew that the medical negligence caused my father to suffer. The settlement gave us a feeling that the facility finally acknowledged their wrongdoing…

Ana B.