The biggest difference between wrongful death and manslaughter is that wrongful death is a civil claim. In contrast, manslaughter is a criminal charge. Therefore, they are adjudicated in two separate court systems. If both are adjudicated at the same time, the findings in one case do not have any implication on the other. Since 1975, our personal injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. have focused our practice on representing residents in New York and New Jersey in civil matters such as wrongful death.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim arises in civil court and is typically filed by the loved ones of a deceased or the decedent’s estate executor. These claims are filed with the intent to compensate the relatives who were left behind. The plaintiff has the burden to prove that the victim would not have died if the defendant had not been negligent. To prove negligence, the plaintiff and their wrongful death attorney must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, that duty was breached, and that breach caused the death of your family member.
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Claims?
Wrongful death claims vary significantly in their nature and underlying facts, but mostly they all involve fatal accidents. Here is a list of some common examples of wrongful death accidents:
- Car, bus, or truck accidents
- Large fires
- Animal attacks
- Premises liability cases
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability cases
- Plane and helicopter crashes
A Lower Standard of Proof in Civil Cases
Many people are familiar with the standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” when proving a defendant’s guilt. However, this only applies to criminal cases, not civil cases. In civil cases such as wrongful death, the standard of proof is “preponderance of the evidence.”
While many plaintiffs in criminal cases may have extensive evidence on their side, sometimes it just is not quite enough to clear the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold. In contrast, with a lower standard of proof, it is easier in civil cases.
A civil suit plaintiff and their wrongful death attorneys only needs to provide enough evidence to tilt the jury’s opinion in their favor.
What Types of Damages Can a Wrongful Death Plaintiff Seek?
As previously mentioned, this claim is brought on behalf of the deceased’s loved ones. Several types of damages can be pursued, including the following:
- Medical bills of the deceased
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the income that the survivors had expected from the deceased
- Loss of consortium covers the deprivation of love and companionship experienced by the plaintiff due to the untimely death of their family member. Loss of consortium can apply to several different types of plaintiffs, including minor children of a deceased parent, the spouse of the deceased, or parents of a minor child who died.
- While less common, punitive damages can still be awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was so egregious that the legal system seeks to punish the defendant and deter them and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Do Not Delay
In the aftermath of the tragic death of your loved one, it can seem like time stops, and many things that were important to you– are now rendered insignificant and trivial. However, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in both New York and New Jersey is only two years.
In other words, you have two years from the day your loved one passes away in which to file. While nothing can bring them back– filing this claim can help you achieve some measure of justice. Make sure not to lose out on this opportunity by contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact us for a free case evaluation
Our firm started as a family business over 40 years ago, and we take that legacy very seriously. If you believe you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, call us for a confidential consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis for wrongful death cases, meaning you will not pay us anything unless you win.