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Common Causes of Wrongful Death


The most common causes of wrongful death are preventable accidents or intentional violence that result in fatal injuries. The four most common types of wrongful death claims brought in New York include the following. 

Motor Vehicle Accident Wrongful Death

Car accidents claimed the lives of 245 individuals in New York in 2021. More than 42,000 people are estimated to have been killed in U.S. traffic accidents in 2020. Most fatal collisions are caused by the negligence of one or more drivers, such as:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Distracted driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield
  • Reckless driving (e.g., abrupt lane changes, tailgating, weaving, etc.)
  • Fatigued driving 

When another driver or a third party is at fault for a fatal car accident, the deceased’s estate is entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim against them for damages. 

Medical Malpractice

When a patient dies as a result of a medical provider’s (e.g., doctor, nurse, hospital, etc.) negligence, it is considered a wrongful death. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Grounds for wrongful death claims related to medical malpractice are often related to a healthcare provider’s misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition or illness, medication error, failure to treat, surgical error, or an error during birth.

Workplace Accident Claims

Some occupations have a high risk of worker fatalities, such as construction and garbage collecting. Employers are responsible for providing a reasonably safe work environment to prevent accidents and severe harm to employees. If a worker is killed due to their employer or a third party’s negligence, a wrongful death claim can be pursued.

Defective Products

Manufacturers are required to ensure that the products they create and sell are safe for public use. When a product is defective due to faulty design, how it was manufactured, or its failure to warn of potential risks associated with its use, it can cause someone to lose their life. Examples of products commonly involved in wrongful death lawsuits include: 

  • Defective vehicles and vehicle parts
  • Contaminated medications
  • Toxic Food Products and Containers
  • Dangerous Childcare Products and Toys
  • Defective household appliances, like hairdryers, curling irons, or toasters

In these cases, any party involved in the defective product’s distribution chain can be liable for wrongful death, such as the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, etc. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

A Yonkers wrongful death case is a civil action that can be filed in New York by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Although the representative brings the wrongful death claim, they are technically acting on behalf of the estate and surviving family members or beneficiaries. The types of compensation that can commonly be recovered include:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased’s fatal illness or injury
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have provided
  • Loss of inheritance for surviving children
  • Estate expenses
  • Interest

If the defendant (at-fault party) acted maliciously or exhibited extremely reckless behavior, the court may also award punitive damages as punishment.