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Negligence and Wrongful Death

In New York City, negligence is the general and broadest category into which most personal injury cases fall. Simply stated, all “negligence” cases involve injuries (to a person or property) that come about through the carelessness or neglect of a third party. If the negligent party owed a “duty” of reasonable care to the injured person, any conduct that falls short of that standard may result in compensatory damages being awarded to the injured party by a court, a jury, or in a settlement.

Since only a small percentage of personal injury and wrongful death cases are based on intentional acts of third parties, the vast majority of cases where someone sues for damages resulting from injuries to themselves or a relative or as a result of the death of a loved one are based on one of the many types of negligence recognized by the law, and required a skilled negligence lawyer.

Negligence cases seek to make a “plaintiff” whole for his or her injuries by awarding money damages for past and future; (1) pain and suffering, (2) lost earnings, (3) medical expenses, and (4) provable damages caused by those injuries. Of course, no amount of money can ever make a person “whole” once they have suffered a serious injury and a damage award or settlement is truly a poor substitute for such things as the loss of a leg, blindness, paralysis, disfiguring burns, or brain damage. However, monetary compensation is designed to allow injured parties to resume their lives with some measure of sameness while also recognizing they have suffered the “loss of enjoyment of life” to some extent or another.

In a wrongful death case, the law seeks to award damages to the estate of the person who died by attempting to approximate the “pecuniary loss to the distributees.” In plain language, this means the amount of money (from the date of death) lost by the people the law recognizes as members of the “estate” of the deceased person. Accordingly, wives, husbands, children, parents, etc. may all be entitled to share in the estate based on the proof of how much the death of the person deprived them of in the future. Again, the award or settlement can never be exact or truly represent what has been lost in terms of a parent, child, husband or wife but it is the law’s attempt to allow the remaining dependants to live their lives with as little disruption as possible.

Since each of our clients has only one chance to secure a settlement or verdict which will be their full compensation, it is always our goal to obtain the maximum amount possible in every case. Mr. Reiff is committed to this goal and that’s the reason why our motto is, “When it’s serious, we’re here…”