Preparing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York: Five Important Steps

There is truly nothing that can make up for the loss of a loved one is an accident that could have easily been prevented. To lose someone you care about because of another party’s negligent actions is heartbreaking and devastating. While it cannot make things right, a wrongful death lawsuit provides the family an avenue to get justice and much needed financial support.

These are highly complicated cases—families need to know how to protect their rights. Here are five steps to take if you are preparing a wrongful death claim in Buffalo:

Step #1: Call a New York Wrongful Death Attorney Immediately

You do not have to go through the legal process alone. Navigating the claims process can be challenging. Defendants and their insurance companies do not make things easy on the family of the victim. It is best to consult with a qualified lawyer as early as possible in the claims process. An experienced wrongful death attorney will make sure that the rights and interests of your family are protected.

Step #2: Obtain a Copy of the Death Certificate

Before you can take action, your family must get a copy of the official death certificate. You can order a copy online through the New York State Department of Health. If you have any questions about obtaining or understanding the death certificate, a wrongful death lawyer can help.

Step #3: Select a ‘Personal Representative’

When a person is hurt in an accident, they have the right to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. In a wrongful death case, a personal representative must be selected to bring the claim. If the deceased person had a will, they may have already selected their personal representative. Otherwise, the next-of-kin will typically assume the role.

Step #4: Investigate the Accident—Securing Evidence

To bring a successful wrongful death claim, you must prove liability. Most wrongful death claims in New York are based on negligence—meaning the personal representative must present evidence proving that the defendant’s carelessness/recklessness contributed to the death. Fatal accidents require a proactive, comprehensive investigation. A wrongful death attorney can help you secure the evidence your family needs to get justice.

Step #5: Determine Damages—Document the Impact

The family should always start gathering evidence related to damages. As explained by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the surviving family members can seek financial compensation for their losses. Be proactive: Make sure that you and your family document the full extent of the impact—from the direct economic costs such as funeral and burial costs to intangible damages such as the loss of parental care and guidance.

Schedule a Free, Confidential Wrongful Death Consultation

At Richmond Vona, LLC, our wrongful death lawyers handle every case with the care, attention, and compassion that it deserves. If your loved one was killed due to the negligence of a business, we are here to help. For a free, confidential consultation, please contact us now. With offices in Buffalo, we represent families throughout Western New York, including in Rochester, Henrietta, Newfane, Lyndonville, and Medina.