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Common questions about wrongful death cases

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When a loved one is killed due to the negligence of another person, surviving family members may question whether a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate. While every case is different, if any form of negligence is suspected in causing the death of a loved one, it is perfectly reasonable to consider seeking damages through legal means. This column will work to address some of the common questions some New York residents may have before deciding to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

One common concern some family members have is: Does the age of the victim at the time of his or her death matter when it comes to filing legal claims for compensation? A wrongful death claim may be filed regardless of the age of the victim. The overall concern in these cases is not age, but the circumstances surrounding the victim's death and the impact the loss of life has had on his or her family.

Another question some may have is: Why file a civil suit if a criminal case is underway or pending? Civil and criminal cases are very different in their purposes and outcomes. An individual who is charged criminally for the death of someone will, if convicted, face certain penalties for his or her actions -- such a prison time -- which may grant surviving family members a sense of justice served. Whereas, in a civil suit, if successful, the defendant may be ordered to pay a monetary judgment.

Finally, many may question what good may come out of filing wrongful death claims. What is the benefit of going through this process? Taking legal action is not necessarily easy. It can be time-consuming and emotionally draining; however, if it proves successful, compensation for any recoverable losses may be achieved. Such losses might include funeral expenses, current and future lost wages or benefits and loss of consortium -- among numerous others.

Losing a loved one in such a manner  is devastating. While filing a wrongful death claim may not bring back the life that was lost, it may provide surviving family members with the means to move forward and may even grant a little bit of closure. Those residing in New York who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others can seek legal counsel to answer any questions and help file civil actions when appropriate.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death FAQ", Accessed on Sept. 11, 2016

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