Protecting Families from Disaster after a Fatal Car Crash Claims a Loved One
Every year in the United States, over 30,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes. They are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the United States and are – ironically – almost entirely preventable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 94 percent of all vehicle crashes in the United States are due to human error.
For the surviving family members of a fatal vehicle crash victim, the loss is often staggering. In addition to the incredible burden of losing a loved one, survivors also face expensive medical bills, funeral expenses, burial costs, loss of income provided by the deceased family member, and other end-of-life costs. The New York City fatal vehicle accidents attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC represent the survivors of traffic accident victims to assure that the negligent party which caused their loved one’s tragic death is held responsible for their actions.
Fatal Car Crashes in New York
- In 2016, the total number of people killed in traffic-related accidents in New York’s five boroughs, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers and passengers, was 229, down from 234 in 2015.
- In 2015, 1,121 people in New York State died from motor-vehicle collisions, a seven percent rise from 2014 when 1,041 died, according to the NHTSA.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every day, nationwide, nine people die and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes attributed to distracted driving.
Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
Fatal car crashes are caused by any number of factors. Often, a single crash can have several contributing factors. Examples of common contributing factors to fatal crashes include:
- Failure to yield to traffic signs or lights
- Failure to pay attention at intersections
- Drowsy driving
- Failure to drive according to weather or road conditions
- Defective vehicle parts.
Where Do Fatal Crashes Occur?
While fatal crashes can occur on any type of road at any time of day, they are more common in certain settings. For example, freeways where vehicles travel at greater speeds in higher volumes of traffic are often the scene of fatal car crashes. Certain types of accidents are also more likely to occur at specific times of the day. For example, drunk driving crashes frequently occur on weekends, especially during overnight hours.
Fatal Crash Types
Many types of crashes produce relatively minor injuries and property damage, such as rear-end collisions at lower speeds. But on the other hand, some crashes are notorious for being fatal for car occupants. These deadly crash types include:
- Rollover crashes
- Head-on collisions
- Side-impact (T-bone) wrecks
- Crashes in which occupants are ejected from the vehicle.
The Cost of a Fatal Vehicle Accident in New York
According to the CDC, the total value of all fatal vehicle wrecks in New York State in 2013 was $159 Billion: $19 Million in direct medical costs and $1.57 Billion in work loss costs – essentially lost family income represented by the death of a working adult.
The breakdown by user was also compelling. The largest amount of loss – $402 Million – was suffered by pedestrians, who made up 25 percent of total state fatalities.
They were followed by:
- Vehicle occupants – $362M/23 percent of fatalities
- Motorcyclists – $253M/16 percent
- Bicyclists – $62M/four percent.
Ages of victims of fatal vehicle accidents was also noted by the CDC:
- Young adults (20-35) – 47 percent
- Adults (36-64) – 34 percent
- Teens (13-19) – 11 percent
- Children (12 & under) – four percent
- Older adults (65+) – four percent.
Wrongful Death in a Fatal Car Crash
Sadly, many crashes are caused by the mistakes or carelessness of another driver. When a negligent driver causes the death of another person in a crash, that driver can be held responsible through a wrongful death claim. While nothing can fill the emotional void left by the loss of a loved one, the negligent party can be made to pay survivors for the financial burdens he or she has caused. Wrongful death claims can aid families by making compensation available for medical bills, loss of income, funeral expenses and burial costs, and more. These claims are an important form of justice for so many families whose lives have been impacted by negligent drivers. They protect families from the financial ruin that the wrongful death of a family member can bring.
What Constitutes Negligence?
To file a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the driver was negligent and that his or her negligence directly led to the person’s death. The law requires drivers to be “reasonably careful” when operating a motor vehicle. There are a number of ways drivers can be found to be negligent behind the wheel—from driving while texting to speeding to not keeping a vehicle safely maintained. Every case is unique. An experienced attorney can help determine whether your case constitutes negligence and wrongful death.
When to File?
In most states there is a statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims. In New York, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the death, not the date of the accident. Claims cannot be filed once two years have passed between the death date and filing date.
Who Can File?
In New York, the executor of the person’s will, the estate administrator or other personal representative of the deceased is responsible for filing the wrongful death claim. Family members cannot file a wrongful death claim unless they are also the deceased person’s executor or representative. However, the claim can seek damages for survivors of the deceased, including spouses, children and other immediate family members.
What Damages May be Awarded?
Every wrongful death claim is unique, but the types of damages that may be awarded depending upon the facts of the case include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Medical and healthcare expenses prior to death
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Lost inheritance
- Value of services and support the deceased provided.
Wrongful death claims can be very complicated. Getting the help of an experienced attorney can ease the filing process and help families get the compensation they deserve.
If your loved one was the victim of a negligent driver in New York, the attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC might be able to help. We have fought for the surviving family members of fatal car crash victims to ensure that they receive compensation to cover many of the incredible costs they suffer after losing their loved ones. Contact us today for a free consultation.