Accidents are an unfortunate possibility every family must plan for when
a loved one works in construction. These accidents often result in catastrophic
injuries and, in the worst case scenario, death. Not only is this one
of the most emotionally difficult experiences a family can go through,
but it also leaves them in a financial lurch as they have lost a major
source of income.
You have a lot to think about in the aftermath of losing a loved one, and
financial compensation is probably not at the top of your list. The statute
of limitations for
wrongful death claims in New York is two years, so you have some time to settle your loved one’s affairs
before pursuing a lawsuit. However, because of the financial strain this
situation can put on your family, it is recommended that you start talking with an
NYC construction accident attorney sooner rather than later. Your attorney will have an easier time investigating
the accident when the details are fresh in everyone’s minds.
Survivor’s Actions & Wrongful Death Claims
When a construction worker dies in an accident, the surviving family has
two options for legal action: wrongful death and survivor action. Many
attorneys recommend filing both just to cover all of your bases. While
these two claims overlap in many ways, some details are unique to each one.
Wrongful death – A wrongful death claim asserts that the employee died because of the defendant’s
negligence, and the family is now suffering from loss of quality of life,
loss of love and support, and/or loss of financial support.
Survivor actions – These claims are also made when the employee died because of the defendant’s
negligence, but it also asserts that the employee experienced pain and
suffering before their death because of the accident. These claims argue
that the defendant would have been able to file an injury claim for compensation
for their pain and suffering, and that their surviving family is now entitled
to those damages.
In New York, family members are not allowed to bring forth wrongful death
claims on their own. Only the “personal representative” of
the deceased’s estate can file this claim. The personal representative
must file on behalf of the family and will be entrusted with the compensation
so that it may be distributed to the surviving family.
In cases where the deceased was covered by
workers’ compensation, and the accident was the direct fault of the employer rather than a third
party, surviving family members can reclaim damages through a workers’
comp claim. Sometimes it is possible to file for workers’ compensation
and an additional wrongful death or survivor’s action claim if more
than one party can be held liable.
For example, if an employee is hurt on the job because of malfunctioning
equipment, it may be possible to obtain both workers’ compensation
and file for wrongful death against the product manufacturer.
Fatal construction accidents often result in complex litigation for surviving
family members. Our New York City construction accident lawyers at Lurie,
Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP can help during this difficult time.
Contact us today at (646) 461-4009.