Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Wrongful Death Law

NY State and The Wrongful Death Law

Parents of children who die because of their medical care have, for years complained that they can’t find legal representation because of the “Wrongful death law”. The same is true for the adult children of senior citizens.

New York State strictly limits the types of damages recoverable in wrongful death cases, so careful attention is needed when proving recoverable losses. These recoverable damages can include pre-death conscious pain and suffering and economic or financial damages — these are not limited to actual financial loss. For example, a child’s loss of parental moral, intellectual, physical training and guidance has an economic value.(

Many patients or family members have been turned away because there may not be enough money in the case (it may take more money to explore the case or pay for expert witnesses than could, or would be collected). These survivors are often left with no answers but until the statute of limitations runs out, hold on to a dream that some attorney would take their case and, at the very least, answer the question of “what happened?”

New York State's Estate Powers and Trust Law is considerably narrow in the damages which it allows for wrongful death claims. (

 Attorneys will tell the family that they have a “good” case but because of the high cost, and very little financial gain from the death of a child or senior citizen, retired with very little income, housewife who does not work outside the home or single adult with no children, it is just not worth their time. So, for years there has been a grassroots interest in changing the “wrongful death law”.

But is there really such a thing? And if so, are there exceptions?

I just received a three page letter from a local law firm that shares some of the cases they were involved in resolving.

• $700,000.00 for a 64 year old woman for damage to a tendon when a steroid was administered and complicated by an infection.

 • Settled on $550,000.00 - A sickly 69 year old man died when he was administered an improper cardiac catheterization.

 • $1,100,000.00 for the undiagnosed lung cancer of a 79 year old man.

• $1,050,000.00 for the death of a single man with no children who died from undiagnosed melanoma.

• A 75 year old woman died during hip replacement surgery. This case settled for $550,000.00.

• For a 2 year old child who died from undiagnosed meningitis the case settled prior to prior to jury selection on $1,175,000.00.

In other states, parents have received compensation for their child’s death and have used that money to start foundations. They have moved their own agenda forward in memory of their family member even without a lawsuit or financial compensation. Families of those who have died because of their medical care have founded organizations, developed programs and have shared their stories graciously to help educate others.

A lawsuit is usually not about the money, it’s about answers but sometimes, families should be entitled to financial compensation with or without a lawsuit. But, I’m not sure I would be comfortable hiding behind the wrongful death law as a reason an attorney won’t take a case.

There are many facts behind these settlements we don't know.  But,  if attorneys are agreeing to take some cases, they need to do something for those cases they turn away.

1 comment:

4rx scam said...

New York Law needs a reform now,there's no doubt about it!