The family members of a patient who dies due to medical negligence may have a claim against the doctor or hospital responsible. These cases are known as wrongful death cases. Only the personal representative of the deceased person can bring a wrongful death claim in New York. Once appointed by the Surrogate’s Court, the personal representative can bring the claim and must prove that:
- The defendant acted negligently
- The deceased person’s death was caused by that negligence
- The decedent left a surviving spouse, children, or other beneficiaries or dependents
- The survivors suffered financial damage due to the defendant’s negligence and the decedent’s death
Only two types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action: economic losses and the conscious pain and suffering of the deceased. Survivors are not able to recover for their pain and suffering.
The economic recovery of the estate includes reasonable value of earnings that have been lost between the time of the initial injury to the deceased and the time of death, the cost of the medical/nursing care before death, and funeral expenses. The decedent’s survivors can recover the value of support and services. If the surviving spouse remarries, his or her award will not be reduced. If the decedent had any children, they may be able to recover for the loss of parental nurturing, guidance, and education.
If you are the survivor of someone whose death was the result of medical negligence, it is important to:
- Document your claim
- Begin probating the deceased’s estate, so that a personal representative can be appointed
- Contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. You only have a limited time to file a wrongful death claim and it is important that you have someone who understands the legal system so that you do not lose the chance for compensation you are entitled to.
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