New York has one of the worst wrongful death statutes in the country as it
does not recognize grief for immediate family members. The statute only permits damages for conscious pain and suffering of the decedent and economic loss to the estate which includes loss of guidance.
Faced with these limitations, Mitchell Silbowitz sought my help on how to increase drive up damages for the family whose 84-year-old patriarch was killed when a 79-year-old driver backed out of her parking space, failed to stop and dragged him to death. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The insurance company was only offering $300,000 claiming there was no economic loss as he had long been retired and the conscious pain and suffering was limited to 3 minutes or less.
Working with the family I discovered two significant facts. The decedent’s wife was actively in end-stage renal failure at the time of the death and, after 51 years of marriage she lost his guidance during the final 18 days of her life. Additionally, I
discovered that one of the decedent’s children had taken over the family business from the decedent and still relied upon his counsel and guidance in running the business.
Working with the attorney, we were able to develop expert reports establishing material economic loss for the lack of guidance. The case was settled for $2,300,000.
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