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Serving Injured Clients Throughout Western New York
Wrongful Death

Buffalo Wrongful Death Lawyers

Helping Families Throughout Erie County & All of Western New York

Losing a loved one is devastating under any circumstances, especially when the death is unexpected. When the loss of a loved one occurs because of another party’s negligence or wrongful act, it can be even more difficult to come to terms with what happened. In situations like these, New York’s wrongful death law allows the family members of the deceased to be eligible for financial compensation when a personal representative of the deceased’s estate files a claim. To learn more about filing a wrongful death claim, you should speak with a Buffalo wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Richmond Vona, LLC online or call us at (716) 300-5885 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team today.
About Richmond Vona, LLC

Understanding New York’s Wrongful Death Laws

Wrongful death law is closely related to personal injury law. Like personal injury law, wrongful death law recognizes the right of a person (or persons) to be compensated for economic and non-economic losses after suffering injuries caused by someone else’s careless or intentionally harmful behavior by filing a civil lawsuit. These two areas of the law differ, however, when it comes to who files the claim and who receives compensation.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person is eligible to file a personal injury claim. When a person dies as a result of his or her injuries, that person is no longer able to file a claim for him/herself. As such, wrongful death law in New York recognizes that the “personal representative” of the estate can step into the shoes of the deceased and file a claim. In other words, the law recognizes that, since the deceased is no longer alive to file a claim, the personal representative can do so in the deceased’s absence. The personal representative can then seek damages for the close surviving family members and others who have suffered losses as a result of the death.

How Do Wrongful Deaths Happen?

Any time an individual dies as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, the death is considered “wrongful” in the eyes of the law. In other words, if the deceased would have had grounds to file a personal injury claim had they lived, the personal representative of their estate may file a wrongful death claim and seek damages for the estate and certain surviving family members.

Wrongful deaths can arise from numerous situations, including but not limited to:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?

Unlike some other states, New York law requires that a personal representative of the deceased’s estate file a wrongful death lawsuit. While other states permit family members, like a surviving spouse or child, to file a claim, New York only allows a personal representative of the deceased to do so. It is possible for a surviving family member to file the claim if that surviving family member is also the personal representative.

That being said, the personal representative files the claim on behalf of certain individuals. If the case is successful, the personal representative essentially holds the damages in a trust for these individuals to whom the damages belong.

In New York, the damages in a wrongful death claim belong to:

  • The deceased’s estate
  • The deceased’s beneficiaries
  • The deceased’s heirs
  • The deceased’s devisees

Typically, though not always, these individuals are surviving family members, such as spouses, domestic partners, children, and other dependents. If you have questions about filing a claim, you should discuss your case with a wrongful death attorney in Buffalo as soon as possible.

Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New York

In a wrongful death lawsuit in New York, the personal representative can seek compensatory damages. Like the name suggests, compensatory damages are designed to compensate.

There are two different kinds of compensatory damages that may be awarded in a New York wrongful death case:

  • Economic Damages: Economic damages compensate for economic losses, otherwise known as objective financial losses (e.g., hospital bills for the deceased after injury but prior to death, funeral and burial expenses for the deceased, lost wages while the deceased was injured but prior to death, and future lost wages).
  • Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages compensate for subjective losses that do not have an objective dollar amount (e.g., the deceased’s pain and suffering after injury but prior to death and value of parental care).

To be clear, under most circumstances, New York law does not permit surviving family members to recover non-economic damages for their own psychological injury or suffering. In other words, while non-economic damages may be available for the deceased’s pain and suffering, a spouse or child cannot recover damages for his or her own pain and suffering.

Contact Our Firm to Learn How We Can Help

While it can be difficult to even consider filing a lawsuit after the death of a loved one, it is important to remember that filing a wrongful death claim can help you with some of the financial costs associated with your loss. In addition, you can hold the responsible party accountable for your loved one’s injuries. An experienced Buffalo wrongful death lawyer at our firm can discuss your case with you today.

Contact Richmond Vona, LLC for more information about how we assist families with wrongful death claims in the Buffalo area and throughout Western New York.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury

  • Can anyone file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one dies?

    Only the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate can file a claim, but that party can seek damages on behalf of the deceased and surviving family members.

  • How much time do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

    The New York wrongful death statute of limitations is two years. This means you have two years from the date of the deceased’s death to file a wrongful death suit.

  • What kind of settlement or verdict can I expect?

    Settlements and verdicts can vary widely depending upon the specific facts of your case. By getting in touch with a wrongful death lawyer in Buffalo, you can get a better sense of what kind of settlement or damages award you might be able to expect.

We Take Every Injury Personally

Real People, Real Stories
  • “He is a miracle worker. He found someone who knew my Dad who had passed away over 50 years ago. No easy feat. He works very, very hard for his clients. Knowledgeable and kind. I highly recommend him.”

    - Colette M.
  • “To this day, I am grateful for the dedication and compassion he displayed throughout my case. The outcome of my case was successful as a result of his drive and commitment.”

    - Sue A.
  • “Keith and John are talented attorneys and, more importantly, compassionate and dedicated people. They are driven by a desire to help, and they always fight for their clients.”

    - Michael J.
  • “They listened to my concerns and gave me excellent advice and made me feel like they cared about my injury and not just my case. These guys are true class acts. Two thumbs up.”

    - Derek G.
  • “John and Keith are not only great attorneys, but they are great individuals. They act with integrity, participating in and supporting local non-profit organizations, and they're constantly striving to learn, grow, and be the best in all that they do.”

    - Rachel M.
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OUR PROMISE TO YOU

We Are Committed to Providing:
  • A Results-Oriented Focus

    Our legal team is prepared to do whatever is necessary to get you the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve.

  • Care, Compassion & Respect

    After all you’ve been through, you deserve someone to fight for you, while providing the individual attention you deserve.

  • Open and Honest Communication

    We value communication and honesty, and we promise to always keep you informed and up to date about your case.

  • Personalized Legal Representation

    When you entrust your case to our skilled attorneys, you become part of the Richmond Vona family - not just another case file.

Meet Our Attorneys Results-Driven, Client-Focused

With almost 25 years of combined personal injury experience, our co-founding attorneys, John E. Richmond and Keith R. Vona, have helped injury victims and their family members recover more than $150 million in financial relief.

Awards & Achievements

  • Martindale-Hubbell
    Martindale-Hubbell
  • Super Lawyers
    Super Lawyers
  • Veteran-Owned Business
    Veteran-Owned Business
  • Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers
    Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers
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