Albany Wrongful Death Attorney
1707 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12205
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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959
The sudden loss of a loved one devastates families across Albany every day, especially when proper care could have avoided the loss.
The financial consequences of losing a family member compound the emotional trauma of a loss. Even when loved ones who die are children or do not contribute to a household’s monthly income, economic loss can be costly. Coping with loss means missing work to grieve, paying for funeral and burial expenses, and sometimes paying for outside help with childcare, domestic chores, and other expenses associated with maintaining a home.
Eligible surviving family members have the legal right under New York law to take action against the party who caused their loved one’s death to recover compensation for damages related to their loss. Money cannot eliminate the grief you are feeling or bring your loved one back. However, compensation helps some families alleviate some or all debt and get on solid financial footing after losing a loved one. In some cases, taking action also prevents others from losing loved ones because of the same person, business, or other entity.
If you lost a loved one due to another party’s careless, negligent, or intentional actions, the compassionate Albany wrongful death lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners can help you seek justice. Call our Albany office for a free case evaluation to discuss the event that led to your loss, and learn about your eligibility to receive compensation for the loss of your loved one.
New York’s Definition of Wrongful Death
We sometimes lose the ones we love far too soon, but not all deaths are wrongful deaths. Like many other states, New York defines wrongful death as death resulting from the wrongful act, failure to act, or negligence of another party.
According to New York law, eligible family members can only bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one could have sued had they survived their injuries. In New York, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit in which a representative of your loved one’s estate pursues compensation for losses related to death on behalf of the estate of the deceased. The law requires a personal representative to file the wrongful death claim for the family.
Finkelstein & Partners Advocates for Families After a Wrongful Death
The personal injury lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners have decades of experience representing families who have suddenly lost loved ones after a wrongful death. The firm’s passion for client advocacy and seeking justice has led to the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards since 1959.
Recent case results in wrongful death claims include:
$3.2 Million Settlement After Poor Road Design Led to Death
We presented our client’s case in front of a State-appointed judge when we sued the State of New York for a poorly designed road. The state failed to fix a road after multiple crashes occurred at the same location, one of which led to the death of a woman from Dutchess County. The woman’s children lost parental and religious guidance leading to a $3.2 settlement when the judge found the state liable for the accident.
$2.8 Million Settlement After an On-the-job Construction Accident
We represented the family of a construction worker who was laying pipe in a ditch that another contractor dug. The contractor did not comply with proper building codes and failed to shore up the ditch walls. Ultimately, the worker died because the walls collapsed on him while he was working. Even though the other side tried to shift blame to the worker, we obtained a $2.8 million settlement for his family.
$2 Million Settlement After a Driver Struck an 81-year-old Pedestrian
A negligent driver backed up out of a parking spot at a shopping plaza without looking and struck an 81-year-old-man. The driver continued to drag the body 15 feet, and the man tragically died at the scene of the accident. The insurance company tried to avoid financial liability because the man was retired and didn’t have any lost wages. Our team fought for his family and demonstrated that they suffered because of a loss of guidance, securing a settlement of $2,000,000 right before trial.
$1.25 Million Wrongful Death Settlement After Drivers’ Ed Student Dies
We represented the mother of a teen driver who was taking drivers’ education classes. The student was a passenger with another student driver and the instructor. The instructor was not paying attention, and the student driving pulled in front of a semi-truck in an intersection. Our client’s child died, and we secured a $1,250,000 settlement for the mother.
The cases above serve as examples of outcomes from wrongful death claims handled by Finkelstein & Partners. They do not guarantee a specific outcome for your wrongful death case. Each claim is different, and many factors influence the amount of compensation a family might receive after losing a loved one. Our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys can investigate your claim and aggressively pursue the best financial outcome for your circumstances.
Wrongful Deaths Occur in Many Situations
If you have suddenly lost a family member, you might be unsure whether you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful deaths can occur anywhere. If your loved one died in any of these situations, you may have a viable wrongful death claim.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Car, truck, motorcycle, and other traffic accidents are among the top causes of wrongful death. According to New York’s Department of Health, over 1,100 people die in motor vehicle accidents on New York’s streets and highways each year, including those in Albany. Severe car accidents put everyone involved at risk for fatality, and they are almost always preventable.
Common causes of fatal traffic crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
- Excessive speeding
- Drowsy driving
At Finkelstein & Partners, we investigate traffic accident claims to determine who is liable after someone loses their life.
Albany’s Mohawk-Hudson and Helderberg-Hudson Bike trails offer safe spaces for cyclists and pedestrians, but walking, running, and cycling in other parts of the city can lead to fatal accidents.
Cyclists and pedestrians do not have the same protection as someone in a car or truck, so chances for death are much higher when a vehicle strikes them. Careless drivers who hit cyclists or pedestrians and cause their death might be liable for damages in a wrongful death case.
Full-time employees spend at least eight hours each day at their jobs, but many spend more. Unfortunately, this makes the workplace a common location for many fatal accidents and injuries. Some occupations are more dangerous than others.
Construction workers, police officers, and truck drivers are only a few examples of jobs that come with an elevated risk of death. Many occupational fatalities are transportation-related, but falls, fires, explosions, toxic chemicals, and heavy equipment also contribute to workplace fatalities.
If your loved one died while on the job, you may need a wrongful death lawyer who understands workers’ compensation claims. In most cases, you cannot sue the employer for wrongful death, but you might have a cause of action against a third party. An attorney can review your case and identify whom you might hold liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The loss of a loved one is a terrible ordeal, but when someone dies at the hands of a negligent medical professional, it’s possibly the worst type of wrongful death. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are supposed to save lives, not take them. Medical malpractice includes negligence, medical errors, and intentional harm during diagnosis or treatment.
Examples of malpractice that often coincide with wrongful death include:
- Misdiagnosis of a condition or disease or failure to diagnose
- Surgical errors including wrong-site, wrong-patient, and unnecessary surgeries
- Leaving foreign objects in the body during surgery
- Failure to get a complete medical history of a patient
- Releasing a patient too soon or failure to provide adequate aftercare
- Pharmaceutical errors, including wrong dosage and wrong medicine
- Improper use of common medical equipment
The above list includes common wrongful death situations, but your loved one might have lost his or her life in another event.
Examples of other less common wrongful death events in Albany and throughout New York include:
- Boating accidents
- Aviation/airplane accidents
- Subway/train accidents
- Abuse, murder, and other intentional harm
- Swimming pool accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Regardless of the situation that led to the loss of your loved one, the compassionate legal team at Finkelstein & Partners can help.
Receiving Compensation for Damages in an Albany Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost a loved one, New York law allows family members to have a personal representative of the estate bring a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. You must take action before the state’s two-year statute of limitations runs out. If you miss the deadline, you risk losing the opportunity to receive compensation. If the court rules in your favor, or you reach a settlement with an insurance company, all compensation goes to the estate of your loved one.
New York’s intestate laws provide the basis for how your loved one’s estate will be distributed among families, with each eligible survivor receiving a proportion of compensation based on their losses.
The order of priority for distribution of the estate is:
- Surviving spouses receive the entire estate when no children exist.
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 and 50 percent of the remaining estate. Children receive the other half of the estate, which is split equally among them.
- Surviving children receive the entire estate when the deceased was not married.
- Surviving parents receive the whole estate if the deceased was not married or has no children.
- If parents are no longer alive and the deceased had no spouse or children, surviving siblings split the estate.
Types of Recoverable Damages in Albany Wrongful Death Lawsuits
New York laws about damages in wrongful death suits do not allow surviving family members to seek compensation for grief and sorrow incurred from their loss a very different approach from most other states. Your attorney will review your case and determine which damages you might receive based on your situation.
Examples of common damages Albany courts award in wrongful death claims include:
- Medical treatment costs up until the time of death, such as ambulance service, emergency room visit, surgery, hospitalization, lab testing, and medication
- Lost wages and benefits of the deceased until the time of death
- Reasonable expenses for a visitation and memorial or funeral service
- Cost of cremation and/or burial
- Estimated loss of inheritance for surviving children
- Monetary value of financial services and support the deceased provided before death
- Pain and suffering that the deceased experienced before death
- Emotional distress of the deceased before death
Albany Wrongful Death FAQ
In the aftermath of losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence, you may have a lot of questions regarding your right to compensation. As you struggle to pay final bills or manage other expenses without your loved one’s presence, you may notice those questions piling up. Contact Finkelstein & Partners, LLP with any questions specific to your wrongful death claim.
1. How much is my Albany wrongful death claim worth?
You lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death claim cannot bring your loved one back, but it can provide you with the funds you need to cover your loved one’s final expenses or to take care of other expenses that may have come up in your life.
At Finkelstein & Partners, we cannot guarantee the compensation you will recover for the loss of your loved one. We can, however, help break down the compensation you should expect, including when you might want to accept a settlement offer and when you should continue to negotiate regarding the compensation you and your family might deserve. We will take a look at several key factors that may contribute to the compensation you can expect.
What are the limits of the insurance policy that covers the liable party?
In most cases, the party that caused your loved one’s death will not pay out compensation directly. Instead, the claim will go through an insurance policy. That policy likely has limits that will determine how much compensation you can recover for your loved one’s loss. Some insurance policies have much higher limits than others, which could make it easier for you to obtain more overall compensation for your loss.
What financial losses did your family sustain as a result of the accident?
Compensation for many of the factors associated with your loved one’s loss, including final expenses, medical treatment costs, or the lost wages or benefits carried by the deceased, may depend on what financial losses your family suffered. The financial loss that goes along with the loss of your loved one may vary by individual, so we will need to break down your specific losses to help determine what compensation your family should expect. We will also look at financial losses related to services your loved one performed for the family, but which you will now need to pay someone else to handle on your behalf.
Keep in mind that “financial losses” may include your loved one’s final medical bills, and you may need to allow time for those bills to arrive. For example, if your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury that led to a long-term coma and eventually death, your family may face immense medical bills related to a long-term stay in a medical care facility that offers significant, in-depth care. Likewise, if your loved one underwent emergency medical treatment before death, you can include those costs as part of your claim.
2. Who bears liability for the Albany accident that caused my loved one’s death?
Sometimes, you may have clear evidence of who caused your loved one’s death. In a car accident, for example, you might clearly see that the liable driver’s irresponsible or negligent actions contributed to the accident and your loved one’s death. In other cases, however, your claim may require a more in-depth investigation.
In general, an attorney will look at several key questions:
- Who bore a duty of care to your loved one at the time of the incident?
- How did the liable party violate that duty of care?
- How did the violation lead to your loved one’s death?
An attorney will fully investigate all elements that led to your loved one’s death, including circumstances in which multiple factors may have contributed to the accident and, ultimately, to the loss of your loved one.
3. Do I really need an attorney to help handle an Albany wrongful death claim?
You lost a loved one in a serious accident, and you may know that you deserve compensation for that loss. However, many people worry about the cost of hiring an attorney or feel that it will drag the process out further.
The reality is, working closely with an Albany wrongful death lawyer like the experienced attorneys at Finkelstein & Partners can make a huge difference in your wrongful death claim.
- An attorney can help break down the full compensation you deserve for the loss of your loved one. Did you know that many insurance companies will not offer the compensation you really deserve for the loss of a loved one upfront? Often, insurance companies will send out a low settlement offer that does not reflect the compensation you really deserve for the loss of a loved one. If you do not know how much compensation you really deserve, however, you may assume that it comes “close enough,” and you may accept the settlement offer without taking the time to consider how much more you might receive. Furthermore, if you try to handle your claim on your own, you might miss out on important elements of compensation. Remember, a wrongful death claim can help provide for you and your family after the loss of a loved one, help you cover final bills, or give you much-needed time to make other financial arrangements.
- An attorney can investigate all the elements that contributed to your loved one’s death. The loss of a loved one can leave you feeling shocked, broken, and grieving. You certainly do not want to investigate his death over and over again, gradually uncovering all the information about who bears liability. A full investigation, however, will often uncover more than one party that bears liability for your loved one’s death. Identifying multiple liable parties can help you recover additional compensation for your loss.
- An attorney can support you and take over tasks you do not want to handle during this difficult time. You have enough on your plate as you deal with the loss of your loved one. You may need to rearrange your finances, arrange for your loved one’s final resting place, and take time to grieve. Dealing with a wrongful death claim on top of it can add unnecessary stress, especially if the insurance company tries to pressure you into accepting an offer that does not meet your needs. An attorney can take over much of that negotiation on your behalf, which may help alleviate some of that stress and put you in a better position to deal with the other challenges in front of you. If you do have to go to court, an attorney can also support you throughout that process.
4. How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in Albany after losing a loved one?
The New York statute of limitations establishes that you have two years from your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim. That means if your loved one lingers for a while and does not die immediately, the statute of limitations starts counting down from the day your loved one died, not from the day of the accident itself. In some cases, you may also have the right to file a wrongful death claim even after that time has passed, since some exceptions do exist. Contact an attorney to learn more about your rights.
However, that does not mean that you should allow the statute of limitations to run out before moving forward with a wrongful death claim. In general, you should contact an attorney as soon after your loved one’s death as possible so you can start moving forward with your claim. An attorney may want to begin investigating the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death as soon as possible, when witnesses’ testimony will remain clearer and evidence may prove much easier to find than it will months after the accident.
5. What should I do if the insurance company that covers the party liable for my loved one’s death contacts me with a settlement offer?
The insurance company that covers your loved one’s death may choose to contact you with a settlement offer for several reasons. First, the company may want to streamline the process as much as possible. Second, the company may want to avoid negative publicity related to the death of your loved one, if at all possible. Finally, however, the insurance company may want to avoid paying out any more compensation than absolutely necessary. An early settlement offer often helps the insurance company avoid having to pay out additional compensation.
Many people have no idea how much compensation they deserve for the loss of a loved one. Grieving and confused, they may sign a settlement offer without taking the time to research it further. However, failing to look into those details could leave you accepting a lower settlement than your family really deserves.
Instead of accepting an offer without arguing, take the time to consult with an attorney. At Finkelstein & Partners, we will take a look at the settlement offer and the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death, then give you more information about when you should accept a settlement offer and when you should move forward with negotiation for a better offer that more accurately reflects the financial losses your family has faced.
6. Will I have to go to court to settle my Albany wrongful death claim?
Most of the time, in Albany, you will reach an agreement with the liable party or the liable party’s insurance company through negotiation. Going to court can significantly increase the legal costs faced by the insurance company, which most insurance companies try to avoid. However, some wrongful death claims do have to go to court, especially in cases of disputed liability. If you have to take your claim to court, you need an attorney on your side who can help you address those concerns.
7. How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim in Albany?
In general, multiple factors can contribute to the time that it takes to settle a wrongful death claim in Albany.
You will not operate on a strict timeline. Instead, you should expect several factors that may contribute to the time needed to settle your claim.
- How long does it take to investigate your loved one’s death? If you have a relatively straightforward claim, in which you can clearly see exactly what caused or contributed to your loved one’s death, the investigation may not take long. On the other hand, a more complex scenario involving multiple parties may require a deeper investigation.
- How long do you need to negotiate to arrive at a reasonable settlement offer? Sometimes, the family and the liable party’s insurance company may start very far apart in their negotiation. As a result, it may take longer for you to meet in the middle and arrive at a reasonable agreement. In other cases, you may not need to go through many rounds of negotiation, because you have already met close to a reasonable agreement.
8. How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death lawyer in Albany?
A wrongful death lawyer may sound like a major expense following the loss of a loved one especially if you already have a lot of other expenses piling up. Investing in a lawyer to help with a wrongful death claim, however, could help you ultimately recover more compensation, not to mention holding the liable party responsible for the actions that led to your loved one’s death.
At Finkelstein & Partners, we will start with a free consultation to get a better idea of your claim and go over your right to compensation. We accept many wrongful death claim clients on a contingent fee basis, which means that you will pay your legal fees out of a portion of the settlement, rather than having to pay upfront. For many of our clients, this makes it much easier to afford legal services during this difficult time.
Let Finkelstein & Partners Help You During this Difficult Time
Wrongful death cases are often complex compared to other claims. An experienced Albany wrongful death lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can help you seek justice and compensation for the loss of a loved one. Contact us today online or at (518) 452-2813 for a free case evaluation to discuss the event that led to the death of your loved one, and the best strategy to recover damages for you and other eligible family members.
We understand you are grieving and struggling with your tragic loss. We can handle the details of your wrongful death claim while you work on coping with your trauma and working to move forward. We can investigate the facts of your claim to build a strong case and diligently pursue the best outcome possible. If we cannot recover compensation for you from a settlement or jury award, you do not have to pay attorney fees. Our no-fee guarantee ensures that you and your family can seek the justice you deserve after suffering such a preventable and tragic loss.