Parents, spouses and children are eligible to file a claim, although minors may need an adult guardian to bring a lawsuit. In some cases, other family members or legal dependents may also have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Can I receive compensation for my emotional distress following the wrongful death of a relative?
Unfortunately, the law in New York does not permit a person to recover for the emotional injury suffered from the death of a loved one. There can, however, be recovery for the pain and suffering the deceased endured before his or her death, as well as damages for economic loss. Recovery for “economic” losses is not limited to lost earnings. For example, loss of parental guidance and other services that had been provided by the decedent have an “economic” value that is compensable. It is important that your attorney be skillful in developing all aspects of recoverable losses, especially in light of New York’s restriction against allowing compensation for emotional distress.1
Caveat New York state does permit recovery in special situations whereby a family member witnesses the serious injury or death of a loved one. In such cases, the family member who was within the “zone of danger” at the time of the accident may be able to recover damages for emotional distress.