Can the family of a fatal car crash victim sue?

fatal accident

As readers of this blog know, we have a speeding problem in New York. Indeed, as explained recently, our state has ranked in the top 10 with the highest percentage of speeding fatalities from the years 2010 to 2020.

And, if you are in the unfortunate situation of being a family member of one of these fatalities, you do have options. You likely can sue the responsible party for your family member’s wrongful death.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

According to New York law, a wrongful death lawsuit can be based on the negligent or wrongful act of another driver that caused the death of your family member. And, you as the family member, may be able to pursue all of the damages that flowed from that death.

Who Can File?

Our state allows the deceased’s spouse to file directly. In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the deceased’s estate on your behalf and the behalf of other surviving family members.

What Damages are Compensable?

If the damages stem from the loss of the family member, they are likely compensable. The two obvious categories are funeral and burial expenses, as well as any medical expenses the deceased incurred prior to death. Their pain and suffering that they endured prior to their death is also compensable.

Other less-known damages include the loss of income and support from the deceased family member, and the loss of inheritance that their children would have received. You can also sue for their children’s loss of parental guidance and care, and the spouse’s loss of consortium and companionship.

Finally, depending on the circumstances, and if the accident was reckless or malicious, punitive damages may be available as well. These damages are purely to punish the negligent driver for their malicious or reckless behavior. And, New York does not cap wrongful death damages.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the legal term for how long you have to file your lawsuit. For our state, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed before the end of two years after your loved one passed. If you fail to do this, you may lose your right to sue.

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