Car accidents are violent events that often cause serious injuries to those involved – injuries so serious they sometimes prove fatal. In New York State alone, nearly 1,150 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in one recent year. What can those left behind do to seek some measure of justice and accountability for what they’ve suffered? The answer, in many cases, is to file a wrongful death claim against the person at fault for the accident. Through a wrongful death claim, family members can demand compensation for a range of losses, from medical bills to loss of inheritance and from funeral expenses to the pain and suffering the deceased experienced prior to their death.
What Causes Fatal Car Accidents in New York?
In one recent year, New York recorded 100,508 car accidents, 37,848 of which involved significant injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, many of these car accidents involve careless, reckless, or simply negligent drivers. Some of the most common causes of fatal New York car accidents tend to include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Reckless driving
- Unsafe lane changes
A moment of distraction on the part of a careless driver can leave a family reeling with the sudden loss of a loved one.
What is Wrongful Death?
New York law defines wrongful death as a death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. Although intentional acts like assault provide grounds for a wrongful death claim, others are negligence-based. Negligence-based wrongful death claims typically stem from incidents such as fatal car crashes and other accidents.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case After a Fatal Car Accident?
Not just any surviving family member can file a wrongful death suit after a fatal car accident, as New York law stipulates that only the personal representative of the deceased can do so. The personal representative is typically also the executor of the deceased person’s estate as outlined in their will.
When a decedent dies without a will, a New York court will assign someone to serve as their personal representative.
Types of Damages Available in a New York Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death suits can be understood as a subset of personal injury lawsuits. A personal injury suit allows someone who’s been seriously injured in a car accident another person caused to recover money from that person to offset the financial and non-financial costs of the accident. Similarly, the personal representative of someone killed in a car accident another person caused can hold that person accountable for the consequences of the fatal accident. This could include money for:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of care or support provided by the deceased
- Loss of income provided by the deceased
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of support and guidance the deceased would have provided
- Medical costs incurred by the deceased before passing
Although only a personal representative can file a wrongful death case in New York, it is the beneficiaries of the deceased who collect the compensation awarded. The value of a New York wrongful death case varies depending on a variety of factors, including the expenses involved and how the accident occurred. An experienced New York wrongful death attorney can review your case to estimate its potential value.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Grief has no time limit. However, filing a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal car accident does. New York law gives individuals two years from the date of the individual’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against an at-fault driver. Filing a lawsuit after the legal deadline can mean the case faces dismissal from the court. Essentially, you lose leverage and the ability to recover maximum compensation.
How Can a New York Wrongful Death Attorney Help You?
Pursuing a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one in a car accident can be challenging. Not only are you coping with the sudden loss of a dear family member, but you are also confronted with a number of stressful questions. What is the state of your loved one’s affairs? Should you negotiate with an insurer for compensation? What happens to your family if you have trouble making ends meet?
Filing a wrongful death claim is a complicated matter and not a task you should navigate alone. Instead, your best course of action is to contact an experienced New York wrongful death attorney for help. They can help you by:
- Reviewing your situation during a free case review
- Conducting a complete investigation into the cause of the car accident
- Identifying all liable parties involved
- Accurately estimating the value of your wrongful death claim
- Negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurer
- Preparing a wrongful death case for trial and representing you in court if necessary
You deserve an advocate. An experienced wrongful death attorney can stand up for you and your family, giving you the time and space you need to grieve the loss of your loved one without having to worry about having to file a lawsuit against a careless New York driver.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer for Help Filing a Wrongful Death Claim Today
Losing a loved one to the actions of a careless New York driver is an incredibly painful experience. At Finz & Finz, P.C., our compassionate legal team wants to help you seek a measure of justice for what you’ve suffered. We know money can’t bring back your family member or erase the pain you feel. However, pursuing the compensation you and your family deserve can provide financial stability during this challenging time and a sense that justice has been done.
Want more information about your legal rights after losing a family member in a New York car accident? Contact our office today to arrange a free consultation.