Surviving a car accident with severe injuries can be devastating enough, but when the result is the fatality of someone you care about, it is unthinkable. Sadly, every year, many injuries and fatalities occur on New York City streets in the more than 228,000 auto accidents occurring each year. With each serious injury or wrongful death, the victim’s families are left in the wake of the fatal car accident with great emotional suffering and sudden financial losses.
Coping with the loss of a loved one after a fatal car crash can be one of the most challenging events to survive. Especially if the reason the accident occurred was due to another person’s careless, unlawful, or negligent driving. If you’ve suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, the wrongful death attorneys at the Raphaelson & Levine law firm will help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation or call 212-268-3222.
After seeing a decline for several years, fatal car accidents in New York City are unfortunately on the rise. At year’s end in 2019, numerous media reports published data highlighting the citywide number of traffic-related fatalities increased in 2019. Here are some other fatal accident-related statistics for both New York State and New York City.
NYC implemented the Vision Zero initiative in 2014, and for six years, traffic fatalities declined. Last year, NYC’s streets were still safer than previous years for New Yorkers, but the recent increase in fatalities is concerning.
No one plans to get into a car accident, and deadly auto accidents are usually unintentional. Unfortunately, the reality is many motorists engage in careless, inattentive, and erratic behaviors that can lead to a serious accident.
Distracted driving is the number one cause of deadly car accidents in the United States. Approximately 2,800 people each year are killed due to distracted driving-related behaviors, including phone calls, texting, using apps, setting GPS, and using social media/internet.
Other common causes of deadly car accidents in New York include:
While these are some of the most common behaviors that lead to serious auto accidents, any unintentional or deliberate disobedience of traffic laws can lead to a motor vehicle fatality. Most of these behaviors can be easily avoided while driving. Motorists who choose to do them are acting negligently.
Along with driver behaviors, the type of car accident has a direct impact on the risk of a fatality occurring. In NYC, common types of car crashes are:
A vehicle rollover is a very serious type of car accident and occurs when a car tips over onto its side or roof. Rollovers tend to result in more fatalities than other types of motor vehicle collisions.
A head-on collision occurs when the front ends of two cars, coming from opposite directions, hit each other directly, or “head-on.” These accidents are often serious, especially if speed is a factor.
A read-end collision occurs when one vehicle hits another from behind. Driver distraction, high speed, tailgating, and poor weather conditions are contributors to rear-end accident occurrences.
A T-bone collision is when the front end of one vehicle collides into another vehicle’s side. These crashes commonly occur in parking lots and at intersections. Due to the direct impact of the crash, many of these sadly result in fatalities.
Many motor vehicle accidents involve a single car. The crash could be driver-related, but other complications, such as a vehicle defect, road conditions, poor road maintenance, and poor road designs, could be contributors leading to another party’s negligence.
If a loved one has been involved in one of these accidents or another type of fatal car collision, it’s essential to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. All motorists are required to carry auto insurance coverage in New York State, but the amount of the policy may be limited, with losses exceeding the insurance policy. An attorney can examine the situation and determine if there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Family members left suffering in the aftermath of a fatal car accident do have legal recourse that can help them recover lost income, earning capacity, and financial support. A wrongful death suit can also help pay for funeral expenses and cover any medical expenses accumulated from an accident injury that resulted in a fatality. This is called a wrongful death suit.
New York State's wrongful death claims are governed by a New York wrongful death statute. This means, a decedent’s family member cannot directly file a lawsuit, a legal claim must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of any family members/beneficiaries. Any damages awarded are then distributed to the victim’s spouse and minor children. There is an exception if other family members can prove financial dependence on the decedent.
The State of New York imposes a statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits. For automobile accidents, a claim must be filed within three years from the date of an accident, but for wrongful death lawsuits, New York limits the ability to file to two years. It’s important to remember, a car accident victim might be pronounced dead at the scene of an accident, or they may succumb to injuries at a later date.
Families want to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident, even if their own insurance company has processed an insurance policy claim. The other drivers' insurance company will typically start the accident claim process quickly. Remember, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is going to protect their own interests, and not the victims left suffering in the aftermath of their loved one’s death.
Wrongful death lawsuits in NYS are limited to economic losses, so a legal case must be carefully structured. Family members will want and need someone by their side to provide them with legal representation and prove beyond reasonable doubt negligence was involved in the loss of their loved one.
Punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits but must be proved the at-fault driver acted intentionally or with recklessness. A skilled car accident attorney will gather evidence, talk to witnesses, obtain the police report, and collect documentation of any medical care or treatment.
Negligent acts associated with driving are generally preventable. At-fault drivers can and should be held accountable for the tragic results stemming from their unlawful, reckless, or unsafe behaviors. However, sometimes the party liable for a fatal crash may be a manufacturer or other at-fault party that contributed to the cause of the accident. No amount of money will replace the loss of a loved one, but an experienced lawyer can help family members get through this difficult process and help protect their legal rights.
If your loved one was fatally injured due to a careless, reckless, or negligent act, the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Raphaelson & Levine law firm can help. Our lawyers will be your voice during the legal process and promise to dedicate themselves to protecting your family during this difficult time. For more than 25 years, our attorneys have extensive experience with fatal car accident cases, car accident claims, and are highly knowledgeable about New York’s wrongful death statute and have won many personal injury cases.
The Raphaelson & Levine legal team places a high value on the attorney-client relationship. It is our goal to ensure your family is protected and can receive closure and compensation to cover any financial losses. To schedule a wrongful death case free evaluation, please contact or call our New York law office at 212-268-3222.