Have you lost a loved one to a motorcycle accident in New York City or on Long Island? If so, you have our deepest condolences. You likely have a lot on your mind right now as you process the aftermath of this tragedy. However, you should know that if someone else caused the fatal accident, they could owe you financial compensation for what they took from you. You should not have to shoulder the burden of your loved one’s passing when someone else is to blame.
On this page, the New York motorcycle accident attorneys with Finz & Finz, P.C. explain how to navigate the legal aspects of a fatal motorcycle collision. Depending on the circumstances, you could pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party, which we will explain in detail. Keep reading to learn more, and contact us today if you’d like to speak with a wrongful death attorney at no cost or obligation.
What Causes Fatal Motorcycle Accidents?
While those in passenger vehicles have crumple zones, seatbelts, and airbags to protect them in a collision, motorcyclists enjoy none of these safety features. They are completely exposed to the force of impact, making them particularly at risk of severe, even fatal injuries in a traffic collision. Consequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely to die and four times more likely to be injured in a collision than a passenger vehicle occupant.
Sadly, many motorcycle accidents are caused by careless, reckless, or simply distracted motorists who don’t take their obligations behind the wheel as seriously as they should. Some of the most common unsafe driving behaviors that lead to fatal motorcycle accidents include:
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Drunk or drug-impaired driving
- Distracted driving
- Illegal passing
- Unsafe left-hand turns
When drivers cause fatal motorcycle collisions, the grieving families they leave in their wake can demand compensation for the harm they have suffered through a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
New York considers a death to be wrongful if it was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. If the deceased could have filed a personal injury against the person who hurt them had the deceased lived, the deceased’s survivors can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. In the context of a fatal motorcycle accident, the deceased motorcyclist’s family can file a wrongful death claim against the driver or other party who caused the crash.
An important thing to understand is that, in New York, injured parties can still pursue compensation even if they were partially to blame for their injuries. In other words, whatever partial fault your loved one bears for the fatal accident does not prevent you from filing a wrongful death claim.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Motorcycle Accident in New York?
In New York, only the personal representative – often called an executor – of a decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. While other states allow certain family members to file suit, this is not the case in New York. If your loved one had a will, this document should name their personal representative. If they did not, the courts will appoint someone to serve in the position.
What Compensation Does a Wrongful Death Claim Provide?
A successful wrongful death claim can recover compensation for a wide range of motorcycle accident-related losses, including:
- Diminished inheritance
- Financial support the deceased would have provided
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Household services the deceased would have provided
- Love and affection the deceased would have offered
- Medical costs associated with the fatal accident
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured
- Parental care and guidance the deceased would have provided
Where Does the Money from a Wrongful Death Claim Go?
The money recovered in a wrongful death claim is distributed to the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate in the following order, depending on who survives the deceased:
- Spouse with no children – The entire amount goes to the spouse.
- Spouse and children – The first $50,000 and one-half of the remaining estate goes to the spouse. The rest is divided equally among the children.
- Children and no spouse – The estate is divided equally among the children.
- Parents and neither spouse nor children – The entire estate goes to the living parents.
There are additional rules when there are surviving children of multiple generations or no survivors from the list above. Consult with an attorney if this applies to your situation.
How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Filing and pursuing a wrongful death claim is a complicated process with high stakes. You should not have to handle it yourself, especially in the aftermath of a tragic motorcycle accident. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you by:
- Reviewing your case and your options during a free consultation
- Conducting an independent investigation to uncover the facts of the accident and determine who could be liable
- Consulting with experts to establish the full range of your compensable losses
- Filing a demand letter with the liable parties or their insurers
- Negotiating a settlement with the goal of getting you the money you need without the expense or risk of a trial
- Taking your case to court if the liable parties won’t offer a fair settlement
New York places a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. If you file your claim after its two-year deadline, your case could be dismissed as untimely, costing you your right to compensation.
Contact a New York Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Help with a Wrongful Death Claim
The attorneys with Finz & Finz, P.C. understand the pain that comes from losing a loved one to a motorcycle accident. While we know that nothing can undo your loss, we firmly believe that a wrongful death claim can provide you with a measure of justice for your loss and the financial security you need during this difficult time. Contact us today for a free consultation with a wrongful death motorcycle accident lawyer in New York.