Wrongful Death: Infants

A federal judge awarded $1.6 million to a family as a result of their daughter’s death in an automobile accident.

The daughter was an infant and was killed when the car she was in, parked along a Kentucky parkway, was slammed by a U.S. owned vehicle driven by an American soldier.

The amount of damages awarded in this case would be virtually impossible to recover in a similar case in New York State, barring horrific pain and suffering by the infant, over an extended period of time, which was not indicated in the matter arising in Kentucky.

The reason: the factors the law permits to be considered. in determining recoveries in wrongful death cases in New York, virtually always result in what can legitimately be called “shockingly low” damage awards in infant cases (“infant” being defined here, not in the legal sense, but by the layman’s definition).

Every state has its own elements that may be applied in determining the amount of award in wrongful death cases.

Florida, for example, permits consideration of the family’s bereavement–the emotional impact on the surviving family members. Some other states do so as well. New York does not !! The Federal Government applies different standards depending on varying federal statues that apply to a particular situation. In the case noted above, the federal courts gained jurisdiction because an American Army vehicle and driver were involved, and particular statues applicable to this situation obviously permitted a recovery of this magnitude.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys will often cringe when faced with the burden of informing grieving relatives, who have recently lost a child, that insult to injury will be visited upon them in the form of a much lower than imagined monetary recovery–not that any amount in the world could ever adequately compensate them for their tragic loss. Most experienced, forthright personal injury attorneys will inform families, who seek to retain their firm, the “facts of life” regarding this egregious situation at the very first opportunity.

This article will be followed by a closer look at the elements involved in wrongful death cases as they affect the passing of an infant.


What is a "Wrongful Death"?

“Wrongful Death” is the term used to describe the death of a person through a negligent act by another person.   It is different from terms you may have heard that are used in criminal law such as murder or manslaughter.   “Wrongful Death” does not involve criminal law–it is a term used in “civil law”–though a person responsible for a wrongful death may also, but not necessarily, be criminally responsible.   A negligent person — a person who causes the death of another through a careless or reckless act, may be responsible to pay money damages to the relatives or family of that deceased individual whether or not that person may also be criminally responsible.

For information particular to New York, please see our wrongful death law page.

Posted by New York Injury Lawyer Steve Orlow