Queens Attorney for Car Accident Deaths
If you have lost a loved one to a car accident, you might be wondering where to go next. Losing a spouse or a parent can mean that your family’s income and finances are going to completely change. If you suffered other losses because of the death of a loved one, the lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw may be able to help.
You might be entitled to substantial compensation for the loss of a loved one. Not only should you be entitled to compensation for the death and suffering of the loved one, but also for your own financial losses caused by their death. Talk to a lawyer to fully understand what your case might be worth. Call our Queens wrongful death attorneys today for a free, fully confidential consultation.
New York Car Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The laws of New York State are quite strict in how they treat wrongful death actions. In fact, the lawsuit is actually split into two pieces:
- A lawsuit for “survivorship,” which compensates you for the suffering and medical expenses your loved one faced before death, and
- A lawsuit for “wrongful death,” which covers your own financial losses the death caused.
The survivorship claim is brought on behalf of the deceased’s “estate.” The “estate” is the property and money that someone leaves behind. This is controlled by the deceased’s “executor” or “personal representative,” who brings this part of the lawsuit. That person is appointed in the deceased’s will or by a court (if they do not have a will).
The earnings from this case become part of the estate and are distributed according to the deceased’s will (or by statute). These damages cover what the deceased would have been able to sue for, had they lived, including medical expenses.
The wrongful death suit is brought directly by the immediate family of the deceased. This suit recovers for their own financial injuries that the death caused. This means they can file this lawsuit for themselves.
Because these lawsuits are so complicated, talk to an attorney. These two-part cases may have two different plaintiffs (the personal representatives and the surviving family). They also have two different deadlines to file, which usually means filing both cases by the earliest deadline. Talk to an attorney to understand how your case can proceed, and how you can get a personal representative appointed on your deceased loved one’s case.
Damages for Car Accident Death
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, there are a few categories of damages you might be entitled to. First, you may be entitled to any damages the deceased would have been able to sue for, had they survived. If the loved one did not die in the car accident, they would have faced medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. All of this is compensable through the “survivorship” claim mentioned above. These damages will become part of the deceased’s estate, which the surviving family will receive through the will (or by statute, if there is no will).
You are also entitled to financial damages you personally face because of the death. This is the broadest category of damages, and works to pay for a wide variety of losses. Each of the following may be compensated through a “wrongful death” lawsuit:
- Funeral and burial costs;
- The deceased’s income, including wages they already lost and the wages they will lose in the future;
- The deceased’s health insurance and other benefits;
- Inheritances that would have grown if the deceased lived longer;
- The value of the deceased’s household chores and responsibilities;
- The value of the deceased’s parenting and childcare services;
- The value of any other services the loved one provided prior to death.
New York is strange in its approach to wrongful death. While most states allow the surviving family to recover compensation for their emotional suffering the death caused, New York is focused on finances. This means that the law does not allow you to recover for anything you cannot put a price tag on, like lost companionship, lost society, lost comfort, or grief.
If you were personally injured in the same car accident, you may also sue for your injuries. You may be entitled to recover compensation for your own injuries, including medical bills, your own lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you were in the car when your loved one died, you might also have a case for “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” This allows you to recover compensation for the emotional shock of witnessing the death of a loved one if you were in the “zone of danger” of the accident.
Car Accidents are the Leading Cause of Accidental Deaths in New York
Fatal car crashes remain a serious public safety problem in Queens, New York, and throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 85 deaths reported nationwide each year happen in a car accident. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of accidental fatalities. More than 40,000 people were killed in automobile accidents nationwide in 2020. The New York State Department of Health reports that an average of 1,100 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents in the state annually. An average of 90 people are killed in car accidents each year in Queens alone.
What to Know About Deadly Car Accidents, Liability, and New York State Law
New York is a no-fault car accident state. All motorists are required to carry minimum mandatory no-fault insurance coverage, including Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Notably, no fault insurance policies in New York include a minimum $2,000 death benefit in addition to the minimum basic $50,000 no-fault limit. After a minor or moderate accident, an injured victim may only have a no-fault claim—meaning their only legal resource may be through their own insurance policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
However, New York’s no-fault insurance regulations contain exceptions for serious accidents. You can step outside of the no-fault insurance system after a serious crash. If your close family member was killed in a car accident in Queens, you may have a right to file a wrongful death and/or survival action claim directly against the at-fault party. Negligent drivers, negligent trucking companies, and negligent vehicle manufacturers can be held legally responsible for a fatal accident.
How Our Queens, NY Fatal Accident Lawyers Can Help
The loss of a loved one in a car crash is heartbreaking. During such a difficult time, you need to be able to focus on doing what is best for yourself and your family. At Sullivan & Galleshaw, LLP, our catastrophic accident and wrongful death team is available to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Among other things, our compassionate Queens fatal car accident lawyers will:
- Answer your questions and explain your legal options;
- Investigate the fatal accident—gathering evidence of fault;
- Build a well-documented case focused on getting your family justice;
- Handle all correspondence and negotiations with insurers; and
- Take your claim as far as needed to get the best outcome for your family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fatal Car Accident Claims in New York
How Do You Get Information About a Serious Car Crash in New York?
There are few things more stressful than finding out (or worrying) that your loved one was involved in a catastrophic car accident. In general, there are three main ways to get information after a major motor vehicle collision in New York City:
- Call the New York Police Department (NYPD) or another law enforcement agency;
- Contact the hospital where you believe your loved one may have been admitted; and
- Reach out to close friends and family members who may already have information.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in New York?
In New York, there is generally a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. With limited exceptions, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s passing. For survival action claims, the statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the accident.
Can You File Both a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action Claim?
Yes. Wrongful death and survival action are two distinct types of legal claims. Following a deadly car crash, a grieving family is not required to choose between these types of causes of action. Your family may be able to file both a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action lawsuit at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. If you have any specific questions about wrongful death and survival actions, please do not hesitate to contact our Queens fatal car accident lawyers for help.
Call Our New York City Car Accident Attorneys Today
Make sure to talk to an attorney to understand the lawsuits you might be entitled to file, and what your case(s) may be worth. The Queens, NY car accident and wrongful death attorneys at Sullivan and Galleshaw may be able to take your case and fight for just compensation for your losses. If your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle collision, we are available to handle all of the legal aspects of your case while you focus on yourself and your family. Call (718) 400-7011 today for a free consultation on your case. With a law office in Queens, our law firm handles catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims throughout New York City.