The unexpected loss of a loved one is an emotional, frustrating experience, especially when their loss resulted from someone else’s wrongdoing or carelessness.
In addition to the loss of companionship and support provided by the decedent, you may also lose their monetary and physical contributions to your household.
While nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death settlement after a fatal car accident can provide your family with the financial stability needed to stay afloat.
You can focus on grieving your loss and processing your feelings while we navigate your wrongful death suit.
Our team at the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima has over two decades of experience helping surviving family members recover wrongful death settlements after car accidents lead to the death of a loved one.
Contact our office today so we can review your case.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Most wrongful death claims are based on negligence. To demonstrate negligence, you must be able to prove each of the following elements:
- Causation, and
First, you must prove the existence of a legal “duty.”
This means that you must be able to show that the other party owed your loved one a duty of care to act in a reasonably prudent manner.
Next, you must prove that the other party breached their duty. Breaching a duty means that a reasonably prudent person would not have taken the other party’s actions.
Examples of a breach of duty in a wrongful death case involving a car accident might include:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
- Using a cell phone while operating a vehicle, and
- Failure to obey posted traffic signs and signals.
It is critical to have evidence that the responsible party breached their duty.
A wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether a breach exists and locate the evidence to prove it.
The third element, causation, means that the opposing party’s negligence caused the death of your loved one.
One way to prove causation is by showing that the decedent’s death would not have occurred if the opposing party had not breached its duty.
Lastly, you must be able to prove you suffered damages as a result of the wrongful death.
This usually includes demonstrating the losses incurred by the decedent’s family after the death occurred.
How Can a Car Accident Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim?
New York defines “wrongful death” as a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.
In August 2022 alone, New York City recorded 8,489 motor vehicle conditions, resulting in 22 fatalities.
Common factors that lead to fatal car accidents include:
- Aggressive driving,
- Driving under the influence of alcohol,
- Cellphone use,
- Distracted driving,
- Eating or drinking while driving,
- Failure to yield to the right of way,
- Fatigued driving,
- Improper use of lane,
- Failure to observe traffic signals, and
Traffic fatalities in 2022 are on pace to increase from the already record-breaking numbers in 2021.
If the decedent would have qualified to bring a personal injury claim had they survived the accident, certain individuals can file a claim on their behalf instead.
Wrongful Death Claim vs. Survival Action
New York offers two avenues for the surviving family members of someone killed in an accident. These options are a wrongful death claim and a survival action.
Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death case is filed by the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate.
The decedent can name their personal representative in their will. If the decedent dies without a will, the court will name an executor to administer the estate.
The wrongful death claim compensates the decedent’s family for the financial losses resulting from their loved one’s death.
The wrongful death settlement is awarded to the decedent’s spouse and children.
If the decedent dies without a spouse or children, the settlement passes to their parents, then to their siblings.
Family members can also hold the at-fault party responsible for their loved one’s suffering through a survival action.
Instead of the decedent’s estate, a survival action is filed on behalf of the decedent.
Survival lawsuits are generally appropriate when the victim did not immediately die after the accident.
Survival actions provide the decedent’s estate with compensation for the pain and suffering the victim endured before their death and any medical treatment they received.
The damages available in a survival action go to the victim’s estate.
What Damages Factor Into Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts?
New York does not allow plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit to claim the same damages as those in a personal injury claim.
The damages available in a wrongful death claim include:
- Lost wages or potential earnings that the decedent would have contributed to the household;
- Loss of consortium, including the care and affection the decedent, provided to a spouse and children;
- Funeral or burial expenses; and
- Loss of parental guidance.
A wrongful death lawyer can help calculate your average settlement for a wrongful death claim based on the circumstances of your case.
What Can Affect Wrongful Death Settlements After Car Accidents?
New York law does not prohibit a wrongful death settlement recovery if the decedent was partially responsible for the fatal car accident.
Instead, the court will reduce the total settlement by the percentage of fault assigned to the decedent.
For example, if a court awards a $200,000 wrongful death settlement, but the decedent was 25% responsible for the accident, the award will be reduced to $150,000.
Individual factors for each wrongful death claim will also impact the overall settlement.
If a decedent has several children, their estate may receive a larger settlement to compensate for the loss of parental guidance than a decedent without any children.
Alternatively, if a decedent earns a high salary, their estate may receive a larger settlement to compensate for the decedent’s lost wages.
Our team can help determine who holds responsibility for the fatal accident and the damages you qualify for.
Questions About Wrongful Death Settlements? Contact the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima Today
Our team at the Law Offices of Theodore A. Naima is here to answer your questions.
Attorney Theodore “Ted” Naima has over two decades of experience representing the surviving family members of those killed in a wrongful death accident.
We are confident in our ability to effectively and efficiently represent your claim.
In 2015, Ted was awarded the prestigious AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, signifying the highest degree of peer recognition and professional excellence.