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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

My Loved One Died in a Car Crash Caused By Another’s Negligence. Can I Sue?

July 6, 2021 in

Losing a loved one unexpectedly in a car accident may be one of the most painful experiences a family can go through, especially when the death was caused by someone else’s negligence behind the wheel. While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, the surviving family may be entitled to monetary compensation to help with the financial burdens associated with the loss. Below, the experienced New York car accident attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. explain your rights.


What Types of Claims can be Brought as a Result of Losing a Loved One in an Auto Accident?


If a driver’s negligence causes an unintended fatality on the road, the victim’s loved ones may be eligible to file a claim for wrongful death, as well as a claim for conscious pain and suffering.


There is negligence if a reasonably prudent person could foresee injury as a result of his or her conduct, and acted unreasonably in the light of what could be foreseen.  Although one’s actual conduct and behavior can be considered negligence, the inability to act or failure to act, known as an omission, can also constitute negligence where is some duty to act.


While acts of negligence can be accidental, there are also intentional acts of negligence, such as reckless driving, that can lead to serious consequences.


Negligence on the road may include, but is not limited to,


  • speeding,
  • failing to yield to traffic signals and signs,
  • failing to yield to a pedestrian or vehicles with the right-of-way,
  • driving at night while headlights are off,
  • following too closely;
  • failure to make repairs that cause or contribute to accident,
  • failing to look; and
  • driving under the influence.


What is a Claim For Conscious Pain and Suffering?


In a cause of action for conscious pain and suffering, the plaintiff has the burden of showing that the decedent had some level of awareness of his or her injuries or endured some sort of pre-impact terror (knew was about to be hit or struck) prior to passing.


Conscious pain and suffering can be established through obvious evidence such as words spoken by the decedent, conversations had with the decedent prior to passing, sounds or gestures of pain or discomfort made by the decedent, testimony from eyewitnesses that the decedent shouted or moved the body in response to the impending accident or even through surveillance footage of the accident.  However, sometimes such evidence does not exist and it takes a skilled attorney to cull through very detailed and intricate medical records to determine if any level of consciousness or pre-impact terror can be established.  Oftentimes, experts are consulted to also make this determination.


What is a Claim For Wrongful Death?


Wrongful death cases not only include proving that an individual lost their life due to someone else’s negligence, but also that the family members left behind were directly impacted emotionally and/or financially due to the death. These impacted individuals must be shown to have suffered a pecuniary and/or emotional loss, such as a child who has to endure a loss of guidance due to the loss of their parent.  There can also be a recovery for loss of earnings, medical bills and loss of household services.


Who Can Sue For The Loss of a Loved One?


Lawsuits brought for the passing of a loved one must be filed by a representative of the estate on behalf of the survivors who suffered damage from the decedent’s death. Typically, the representative is a family member or next of kin but depending on the circumstances, this may not always be the case.  The proposed representative has to be officially appointed to represent the estate by Surrogate’s Court. No action can be commenced on behalf of the decedent until a representative is officially appointed.


It is important that you seek legal counsel for your wrongful death case. An experienced attorney will help you better understand who is able to file for wrongful death in your case.


When Should I Seek Legal Counsel After Losing a Loved One?


Besides the emotional pain and despair, losing a loved one can quickly become overwhelming and taxing on the family members of the victim. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can help to minimize the stress.  A seasoned attorney will help sort out many issues that may arise early on, such as communicating with insurance companies, dealing with medical bills and complying with officials to provide information.  An experienced attorney knows how to gather the needed evidence from the start to prove that negligence caused the death, communicate with insurance companies and represent you in court.


At Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas and Cannavo P.C., we understand the devastation that a family experiences when a loved one dies. Know that you are not alone in the fight to receive justice for the tragedy you have lived through. To get in touch with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact us today for a free consultation. Call (212)-732-9000 or fill out the form below.

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Our fee is on a contingency basis. If we don’t recover money for you, we will never charge you. If you are unable to come to any of our offices, we are happy to visit you at home or in the hospital.

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