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Damage caps on wrongful death in New York

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Wrongful Death

When a person in New York loses their life due to another’s actions, they may leave behind family members. The loss to those victims is significant and the law says negligent parties can be held monetarily responsible for their actions.

But how much can a family receive in these matters?

No limits

Many jurisdictions have a cap on amounts that juries can award survivors. The intent is to not give juries absolute authority. Otherwise, sympathetic ears may go overboard.

New York is the rare state that puts no ceiling on the amount of damages plaintiffs can receive. That ensures survivors get every dime they deserve.

Determining damage amounts

Wrongful death suits involve various factors when calculating damage amounts. While there may be precedents, they are not necessarily go-tos for final judgments.

The award is ultimately influenced by:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Age of the deceased
  • Life expectancy
  • Health
  • Future earnings
  • Any surviving minors

Example of determination

Before one jury, you have a family that lost a young, healthy mother and wife with a successful career, earnings that could grow for decades. In another courtroom, you have a family grieving the loss of a retired, elderly grandfather.

No one would argue either family’s suffering is greater but the plaintiff’s lawyer (and probably the jury) will factor in the economic and emotional impact on the family.

The younger victim had many years left. Her earnings were instrumental to the well-being of the household. The spouse and children lost all those years of guidance and companionship.

Before the other jury, there will likely be less emphasis on earnings and the years the grandfather would have had in the long term. As sad as they may be, the financial and personal impact on survivors is the foundation of damages.

It is important to keep information like this in mind when considering a wrongful death lawsuit. Damage amounts have no limit but conditions will affect them.