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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Friday, February 21, 2020

Public Outrage Over Dad’s Alleged Role in Autistic Son’s Death

Q: Who can sue for wrongful death?

Sometimes, horrific headlines shock even seasoned New York City wrongful death attorneys. The recent death of an eight-year-old autistic boy from Long Island, New York allegedly as a result of mistreatment by his own father and his fiancée, is one such tragedy.

The boy’s father, a veteran NYPD cop, had custody of him and his two young brothers and they all lived in a home with the father’s fiancée and her three daughters.

The boy’s mother reportedly lost custody of her three boys to their father in 2017 and spent the years since trying to regain custody, repeatedly alleging her children were in danger, to no avail. The death left some to question whether the father being a police officer may have improperly earned him the favor of a system that seemingly failed the young boy.

Shortly after the boy died from hypothermia-- allegedly after being forced to sleep in the unheated garage with outside temperatures below freezing-- investigations were finally launched. The grieving mother claims she “reported to law-enforcement and child protective agencies and judges about the alleged abuse of her three young boys” who, among other things, allegedly had food routinely withheld as a punishment and were reportedly losing weight and failing to thrive. The two surviving boys have reportedly been returned to their mother’s custody.

When a victim dies as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of someone else, their estate and/or their closest surviving relatives may be entitled to monetary damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

What must be proven in a wrongful death lawsuit?

To prevail, three elements must be proven:

  • that the victim died as a result of the wrongful conduct or negligence of someone else,
  • that the victim could have sued for personal injury had they not died from their injuries, and
  • that the victim left survivors who suffered damages as a result of the victim’s death.

In many situations where wrongful death allegations are made—including the above case--criminal charges may also be brought against the person(s) involved. Note that a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a civil suit for money damages, may be successful even if criminal charges are not brought or are dismissed against those who allegedly caused the victim’s death.

When it comes to children, there are also mandatory reporters who have a duty to report any suspected child abuse or maltreatment based on observations of and or conversations with the child. Failure to do so may subject mandatory reporters to liability as well. Examples of mandatory reporters include but are not limited to doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, and child care workers.

State laws differ as does each particular case, but generally, those entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York may include the victim’s spouse, children, parents, or the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate.

The type of damage recoverable also differs on a case-by-case basis but generally includes the funeral and burial costs of the victim, the victim’s pain and suffering prior to death, and their final medical expenses. Lost earnings and loss of support and other damages may also be recoverable depending on the situation.

If you or a loved one has been injured or loved one has been killed, the Goldstein Law Firm can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. While it won’t bring your loved one back, it may ease the financial burden of your loss, so you can focus on healing. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

From our offices in the Bronx, New York, we represent injured victims and their families throughout New York City and New York State, as well as those injured while visiting New York.


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