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Fatal Workplace Injuries: Wrongful Death Claims and Rights for Families

Losing a loved one to a fatal workplace injury is devastating. Although workers’ compensation death benefits give families some financial relief, pursuing a wrongful death claim can help them find a sense of justice if negligence was involved. At Nappa, Monterosso & Poznansky, LLP, we have decades of experience assisting families in the greater NYC area with work-related third-party liability claims. If you’ve lost a loved one who was killed on the job, a wrongful death attorney can evaluate your case and determine the best path forward for a successful claim.

What is Wrongful Death?

When a worker dies because of the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another party, it could be considered a wrongful death. Generally, injured workers and their families are prohibited from suing employers in New York due to protections from liability in the workers’ compensation law. However, if another party such as a subcontractor or manufacturer of faulty equipment caused the death, a deceased worker’s family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against them.

Understanding Your Rights in Wrongful Death Claims

In New York, only the personal representative of the deceased workers’ estate can file a wrongful death claim on the beneficiaries’ behalf. They may also file a survivorship claim for the deceased’s pain and suffering. Any proceeds from these claims become part of the estate and are distributed to beneficiaries.

Families have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in New York. There is no limit on the amount of damages that may be awarded in a New York wrongful death claim. An experienced attorney can help you understand the complexities of these claims and guide you through the process every step of the way.

Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

In New York, compensation in wrongful death cases may cover damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future earnings and financial support
  • Loss of household services the deceased worker would have provided
  • Value of parental guidance, nurturing, and care for surviving children
  • Loss of inheritance for surviving children

Unfortunately, New York law does not allow family members to recover compensation for their own pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of companionship. However, damages for the deceased worker’s pain and suffering can be brought in a survivorship action. If your loved one died from an occupational disease such as mesothelioma, you may be able to recover damages from an asbestos-related trust fund or the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) court.

In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded if a liable party’s conduct was particularly egregious or malicious. Punitive damages are intended to punish defendants for their outrageous behavior and deter others from committing similar acts. A wrongful death attorney can determine which types of damages may apply depending on the specifics of your case.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

Choosing an attorney with experience handling wrongful death cases can maximize your chances of a successful claim. A wrongful death lawyer will identify all liable parties and advocate for your rights and interests. Some common potentially liable parties in work-related wrongful death claims include:

  • Subcontractors
  • Designers, manufacturers, and distributors of defective tools, equipment, and dangerous substances or products
  • Drivers of other vehicles when someone is killed in a work-related car accident

For a wrongful death claim to be successful, you must prove that the defendant’s actions or negligence directly caused your loved one’s death. Your wrongful death lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation and collect evidence such as accident reports, witness statements, video footage, and other evidence.

They may also consult with medical professionals and financial experts to help them accurately value your claim. An attorney will put all of the information and evidence together to assign liability for your loved one’s fatal workplace injury and build a solid case for wrongful death.

A Wrongful Death Attorney Handles All Aspects of Your Case

In most cases, wrongful death claims are settled through negotiation. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will know how to counter insurers’ attempts to deny or minimize your claim. Having a lawyer handle negotiations allows you and your family to grieve and support each other in peace. If a reasonable settlement can’t be reached, they may take your case to trial.

A skilled wrongful death attorney advocates for your rights and provides essential emotional and legal support during a difficult time. Although nothing can bring your loved one back, holding responsible parties accountable can help with healing and navigating the challenging aftermath of a tragic loss.

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in the Greater New York City Area

At Nappa, Monterosso & Poznansky, LLP, we’re dedicated to helping families get through difficult times. Whether you’ve lost a loved one due to a fatal workplace injury or occupational disease, we can help. Our Spanish-speaking clients can count on attorney and partner Rolando Cubela to provide them with quality legal representation. To schedule a consultation, call us at 718-273-9000 or contact us today.

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