Protecting Families from Disaster after a Fatal Car Crash Claims a Loved One

According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there have been at least 36,000 deaths on American roads every year since 2016. As a fatal car accident lawyer, one sees more than their fair share of the suffering that accompanies alarming statistics like these.

In addition to the staggering burden of losing a loved one in a car accident, you may also face medical bills, funeral expenses, burial costs, the loss of household income provided by the deceased family member, and other financial challenges.

The Role of a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer in New York City

Fatal car accident lawyers in New York have an array of responsibilities. Our job isn’t just to argue cases in courtrooms; the process of representing the family of deceased car accident victims is much more complex than that.

Our work begins with a free initial consultation, during which you explain the circumstances of your loved one’s accident and the impact it has had on your life. From here, we’ll be able to give you an idea of whether you should pursue legal action against the at-fault party in the case.

The legal system can be daunting, especially if you’re mourning a recent loss. Without an expert attorney on your side, you’ll have a much smaller chance of emerging from a dispute with the compensation you and your family deserve. Fatal car accidents can be complex, and wrongful death cases are often high-value claims, meaning insurance companies will fight hard to minimize their liability in relation to them.

When we start working on car accident cases, our first step is to investigate the circumstances of the crash. Our team must build a solid, detailed case by uncovering evidence and identifying all potentially liable parties. This typically involves a visit to the scene of the accident, as well as any medical records and police reports related to it.

After we file a lawsuit on your behalf, the discovery process can begin. This involves the exchange of documents and other evidence with the opposing legal team. There may also be depositions at this stage; these are official sessions (held out of court) in which witnesses provide sworn testimony.

During the discovery process, there will be opportunities to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If we can get you a satisfactory payout at this stage, we will; however, if the insurance company is unwilling to agree to a fair deal, we won’t hesitate to fight your case in front of a judge and jury.

Statistics on Fatal Car Crashes in New York

  • Earlier this year, the state Department of Transportation revealed that there were 255 road deaths in the five boroughs of New York City in 2022. This figure marked a 6.6% decrease from the number of fatalities in 2021.
  • IIHS statistics reveal that there were 1,157 deaths from car accidents in the state of New York in 2021.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/), more than 3,100 people lost their lives in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019. Around 20% of those who lost their lives were traveling outside a car, such as on foot or on a bicycle.

Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

There are many types of negligent driving that can contribute to fatal road accidents. Examples include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding, or traveling too fast for road conditions
  • Improper changing of lanes
  • Failure to properly follow road signs or traffic lights
  • Failure to pay attention at intersections
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving with defective vehicle parts.

Where Do Fatal Crashes Occur?

While fatal crashes can occur on any type of road at any time of day, certain settings present greater risks than others. For example, freeways (where vehicles travel at greater speeds in higher volumes of traffic) are often the scene of fatal accidents.

Also, different types of road users are more at risk in different areas; according to the IIHS, pedestrians and cyclists are more at risk of dying in urban areas, while people traveling in large trucks are more likely to lose their lives on rural roads. The IIHS also revealed that rural areas are much more likely to see fatal crashes in general; 40% of road fatalities in the U.S. happen on rural roads, despite the fact only 20% of the country’s population lives rurally.

Certain types of accidents are also more likely to occur at specific times. For example, drunk driving crashes frequently occur on weekends, especially during overnight hours. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 13,384 deaths related to drunk driving in 2021.

Fatal Crash Types

Many types of crashes typically produce relatively minor injuries and property damage, such as rear-end collisions at lower speeds. On the other hand, there are collision types with notoriously high fatality rates, such as:

Costs Associated With Fatal Vehicle Accidents

According to the CDC, the overall cost of traffic crash deaths to the American economy in 2018 was around $55 billion. This figure accounts for both medical expenses and work loss costs.

Road fatalities in the state of New York accounted for $1.44 billion of this, with the vast majority of this cost ($1.42 billion) coming from work loss costs. Deaths of adults between the ages of 20-34 were the most costly to the economy, accounting for $624 million in losses.

Wrongful Death in a Fatal Car Crash

Sadly, many crashes come about because of carelessness. When a negligent driver causes the death of another person in a crash, that driver can be held responsible through a wrongful death claim. These claims can aid families by making compensation available for medical bills, loss of income, funeral expenses, burial costs, and more.

As well as providing grieving spouses, children, and parents with a path to justice, wrongful death actions can protect families from financial ruin.

What Constitutes Negligence?

To succeed in a wrongful death claim arising from a car accident, you must be able to prove that the at-fault driver was negligent and that their negligence directly led to your family member’s death. The law requires drivers to be “reasonably careful” when operating a motor vehicle.

There are a number of actions that may constitute negligent driving, including:

  • Driving while using a mobile device
  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Failing to keep a vehicle safely maintained.

It’s important to note that these general guidelines fail to illustrate how complex wrongful death cases can be in practice. Every case is unique, and similar sets of circumstances in cases can result in very different outcomes. The skill of your fatal car accident lawyer is one factor that will have a huge bearing on how successful your case is, which is why it’s so important to choose your legal representative carefully.

When to File?

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 generally be filed once this deadline has passed.

Who Can File?

In New York, the executor of the person’s will, the administrator of their estate, or some other personal representative must file a 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 parents.

What Damages May Be Awarded?

The types of damages available from wrongful death actions vary depending on the circumstances of cases. Generally speaking, settlements include damages for:

  • 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.

Vision Zero

In 2014, New York City became the first city in the United States to adopt the Vision Zero approach to traffic safety. The initiative aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries on city streets, using approaches like:

  • Reduced speed limits: One of the earliest and most notable changes under Vision Zero was the reduction of the default citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.
  • Street design: The city committed to redesigning dangerous intersections and corridors, build new pedestrian safety islands, introduce more protected bike lanes, and maintain more visible crosswalks to make streets safer for all users.
  • Data analysis: City authorities use data to identify accident black spots before applying engineering, education, and enforcement strategies to address the issues in these places.
  • Outreach and education: City agencies conduct outreach to educate the public about safe driving behaviors and the goals of Vision Zero. This involves working with schools, community groups, and other stakeholders.
  • Legislation: The city has pursued various legislative changes to enhance traffic safety, such as rules requiring the Department of Transportation to regularly review potential accident-risk issues.
  • Taxi and for-hire vehicle safety: The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has implemented new rules and programs to improve the safety records of taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers.

Seeking Justice

If your loved one was the victim of a negligent driver in New York, the car accident attorneys at Tucker 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, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us via the form on our website, or over the phone at (516) 399-2364.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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