New York Medical Malpractice Cases: What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

The death of famed comedienne Joan Rivers in August last year has resulted in one of the most famous cases of alleged medical malpractice in New York. Last January, Rivers’ daughter Melissa filed a lawsuit against the clinic who performed an endoscopic procedure to examine the late TV personality’s esophagus. In her lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Melissa accused her mother’s doctors of being too busy taking pictures of the comedienne that they failed to note the older Ms. Rivers’ dropping vital signs. This triggered a coma, which ultimately led to her death.

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In legal terms, wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the fault of another person or entity. The laws governing wrongful death may vary by state. In New York, a wrongful death lawsuit must contain five elements in order to establish the claim. First, a death should have occurred. Second, the death was caused by the negligent or wrongful act of the defendant. Third, had the deceased survived, he or she would have grounds to file a lawsuit against the defendant/s. Fourth, other parties who survived the deceased are suffering from her loss. Fifth, the deceased’s estate may recover damages.

Damages You can Pursue

In cases of wrongful death due to medical malpractice, the first thing survivors need to do is to call trusted Manhattan medical malpractice lawyers, who can help them establish their claims, and pursue damages against the defendants. New York courts can award damages that may include the amount of funeral and burial expenses, reasonable medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness, and the conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased due to the injury. At times, the Courts can grant a 9 percent interest on the awarded damages, usually calculated starting from the date of death.

Time is of the Essence

Melissa River’s lawsuit was filed five months after her mother’s death, which still applies to the limit: New York laws state that a wrongful death claim may only be filed within two years from the date of death. If the surviving representative for the deceased is a child or is legally considered incapable of filing the claim, the survivor’s guardian may, instead, file the claim.

If you believe a loved one’s death is caused by negligent actions on the part of medical practitioners, waste no time in calling medical malpractice lawyers, such as the professionals from The Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein. The pain of losing someone you love may somewhat be eased by knowing you can get justice for your untimely loss.

(Source: Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New York,

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