Personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits have many similarities. Both of these claims are based on the theory of negligence: a duty was owed, that duty was breached, and the breach caused damage. In both actions, someone suffers an injury, resulting in medical bills and other related economic damages. Despite the many similarities, the two lawsuits are significantly different in terms of who has the capacity to initiate action and the areas for which compensation can be awarded.
The person filing the claim in a personal injury lawsuit is the actual person who suffered the injury. Wrongful death lawsuits, however, are filed by surviving family members on behalf of a deceased loved one. The party who brings the action must be able to prove negligent actions on behalf of the person who allegedly caused the injury. The most notable distinctions between personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits are the parties that must be filed to initiate action and the justification of the damages awarded.
The action in a wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the personal representative of the deceased, who will recover for the benefit of the survivors of the deceased and will inherit all the damages caused by the injury that caused the death. A typical personal injury lawsuit is filed by the injured victim on their own behalf, or by a parent or guardian on behalf of a minor or another person who lacks capacity. Most of the damages in a wrongful death case approximate those that would have been available if the victim had survived and filed a personal injury lawsuit, but there are some differences. Survivors of accident victims can recover damages, but so-called “wrongful death lawsuits” are slightly different from other personal injury lawsuits.
When someone is injured due to another person's negligence, they have the right to seek compensation for damages through a personal injury lawsuit. It's not uncommon for a party to file a personal injury lawsuit first and then a wrongful death lawsuit later on. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss by contacting experienced Hudson Valley personal injury lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a free consultation.