If you have suffered the death of a loved one in New York due to the negligent or reckless actions of others, you may consider filing a wrongful death claim. Although such an action will not bring back the person you lost, it may provide you and the others he or she left behind with some financial relief as you grieve and adjust. Therefore, it may be helpful for you to understand the types of damages that may be awarded in wrongful death actions.

New York state law dictates that juries or judges in wrongful death cases may award pecuniary damages in an amount that they deem just and fair for the related losses. These types of damages cover those losses that can be measured in financial terms. This includes any medical bills incurred prior to your loved one’s death as a result of the injuries he or she suffered, as well as any reasonable funerary expenses that you were responsible for.

Although they are somewhat less tangible than other losses, pecuniary damages may also cover the loss of the support and the services provided by your loved one. For example, this may include the earnings of the primary breadwinner in a family, or the contributions to the household of a stay-at-home wife and mother.

If your loved one would have been eligible to receive them had he or she survived, state law specifies that punitive damages may also be awarded in wrongful death actions. Not based on your economic or noneconomic losses, as are pecuniary damages, these awards may be issued in cases involving malicious wrongdoing. They are meant to serve as punishment, as well as to act as a deterrent to keep others from repeating the behavior or acting similarly.

This post should be considered as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.