Who is Liable for Wrongful Death of a Child?
Children are one of society’s most vulnerable demographic. When a person is negligent, or careless, children suffer great harm, even when the mistake or error was a small one. In the worst of cases, children may even suffer wrongful death due to the actions or inactions of another person. The law in New York recognizes that there is no greater pain than losing a loved one, particularly when that person is a child. It is for this reason the legal system in the state allows for wrongful death claims.
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed against the negligent parties that caused the death of another person. Although a wrongful death claim can help families seek justice, they are complex. A New York City wrongful death lawyer can help you and your family through the process.
Causes of Wrongful Death in Children
Sadly, children can suffer life-threatening injuries for a number of reasons. One of the main causes is medical negligence by doctors and other healthcare workers, particularly during delivery. For every 1,000 children born in the United States, six to eight will suffer a birth injury due to medical negligence. Sometimes, these mistakes are so serious the child passes away before they can receive any medical attention.
Another form of medical malpractice that takes the lives of too many children is dosing errors. As a child’s body is still developing, their systems are very sensitive to medication. When even a very small mistake is made in the dosage of medicine a child receives, it can be fatal for the young person.
Medical malpractice is not the only negligent act that can cause the death of a child. Negligent day care providers may fail to properly supervise a child, which can cause them to fall, ingest toxic chemicals, become severely burned, and more. All of these accidents can cause catastrophic injuries that ultimately result in wrongful death.
In other instances, defective toys, and children’s products cause the wrongful death of a child. A car seat may be outfitted with defective safety straps, or a toy could pose a choking hazard.
Determining Liability After the Wrongful Death of a Child
It is important to determine what caused a child’s wrongful death so parents know who to hold liable for it. If the death was due to medical malpractice, the parents must identify which specific healthcare worker was responsible, as well as whether they have a claim against the hospital facility, too.
The same is true for day care centers and schools. There are many people in these facilities that help care for the children, and parents must identify which staff member was negligent and caused or contributed to the death of their child.
Lastly, manufacturers have a very high duty of care to ensure their products are safe for everyone to use, and that includes children and their parents. When manufacturers fail in this duty and release defective products onto the market, they can be held liable for any injuries or fatalities caused by that product.
Recovering Damages After the Wrongful Death of a Child
Most states in the country allow parents to recover damages, or financial compensation, when a child or infant passes away due to someone else’s negligence. The majority of states allow parents to recover damages for their financial losses, such as funeral and burial expenses, as well as for their own grief.
In New York, parents can only recover damages for their financial losses. They are not able to recover compensation for their emotional loss. This means that while parents can still recover damages for losses such as medical costs, they cannot include their own mental anguish within their claim. However, parents can claim any losses for the value of service a child would have provided. For example, if the child had household chores, parents can include the loss of that service in their claim.
How Are Damages Calculated?
When an adult is the victim of a wrongful death, it is sometimes fairly easy to quantify the losses of loved ones. For example, if two parents passed away, their children would be able to file a claim for the loss of the parents’ income, as well as the loss of the parents’ emotional support and guidance. When a child is the victim of someone else’s negligence and dies as a result, it is not as easy to calculate the damages. Still, there are some common factors the courts will take into consideration. These include:
- The age of the child
- The work expectancy and life expectancy of the child
- The relationship between the child and the person filing the claim, whether that is a parent or guardian
- The health and age of the individual filing the wrongful death claim
Typically, the younger the child was at the time of death, the more difficult it is to quantify the monetary compensation the parent or guardian deserves.
When Can You Not Recover Damages for the Wrongful Death of a Child?
Unlike some other states, New York law does not allow parents to sue over the loss of a fetus. For example, if a pregnant woman was involved in a car crash and she lost her unborn child as a result, that loss cannot be included within a claim. However, the emotional damage caused as a result of the loss may be recoverable. It is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer that can determine if you have an eligible claim, and that can help you through the process if you do.
Call Our Wrongful Death Lawyer in New York City Today
Losing a child is one of the hardest things a person could ever go through. When that loss was due to the irresponsible actions or inaction of another person, it can make it even harder for the family to move on. If you have lost a child, our New York City wrongful death lawyer is here to help. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., we have a proven track record of helping our clients claim the damages they deserve, and we want to put our experience to work for you. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.