Death From Car Wreck in New York City: What Should I Do?
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Car Wreck Lawyer in New York City
New York City is, without a doubt, one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. The fast-paced 24-hour lifestyle, the food, the sights, and the attractions are bar none. However, with all that is wondrous about the city, the traffic and congestion make it a very dangerous place to drive.
In spite of being cautious, intersection accidents are the most probable place to experience death from car wreck in New York City. If you have recently lost someone due to such a tragic incident, "What should I do in case of the death of a loved one from a car accident in NYC?” may be at the top of your mind right now. We're here to help answer the tough questions in your time of need.
New York City has some of the state's most dangerous roads, impacting motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians from all five boroughs. The traffic in the city ranks NYC as the 4th worst in the nation, and traffic can lead drivers to take risky actions and behave in ways that put others in harm's way.
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How does traffic lead to fatal crashes in New York City?
The most common cause of car crash deaths in NYC is driver inattention and distraction. When stuck in traffic, drivers are more likely to spend time on their phones texting, browsing, or talking to other people. Traffic gets under people's skin, and the constant delay may cause tempers to flare, resulting in road rage accidents. Additionally, drivers that feel they have to make up for lost time are more likely to ignore speed limits and try to make it through a yellow light or blow through a red one. Traffic fatigue can also make drivers less cautious of pedestrians, and they may illegally fail to yield right of way.
Why was 2020 such a deadly year for drivers in New York City?
In contrast to traffic being a significant cause of car crash fatalities in New York City, 2020 introduced new scenarios that were previously unthinkable. When the pandemic hit, and the city went into lockdown, the streets seemed mostly devoid of cars, yet 243 people died that year.
Previously congested highways were now vacant, and people were free to speed recklessly. Additionally, people flocked to motorcycles as a source of entertainment even if they had never driven one previously. While older drivers may have stayed home out of caution, young drivers who are inherently more prone to risky driving behaviors hit the road speeding or even drag racing. One last factor that may have caused more fatalities is the use of drugs and alcohol while driving, as many people turned to these mood-altering substances to cope with the stress of the pandemic.
If you lost a loved one in New York City during this time from a car accident, it's still not too late to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations in the state of New York sets a filing deadline of two years from the date of the person's death. There are even exceptions to the statute of limitations if the accused has a criminal case pending. If the person responsible for the death of your loved one is being prosecuted by the state, you have one year to file a wrongful death claim from the date the criminal case ends.
What are the criminal consequences of fatal car accidents in New York City?
When a car accident is severe enough to cause death, the stakes are very high. A wrongdoer may panic and make further poor decisions like leaving the scene of the accident. If a death is involved, they face a felony with a possible sentence of up to 7 years for hit and run.
Suppose the driver that caused the accident is found to be under the influence or transporting dangerous materials. In that case, they can be charged with vehicular manslaughter in the first or second degree or aggravated vehicular homicide. Depending on many factors, they can receive up to 15 years in prison and a substantial fine.
Beyond these two examples, it is difficult to pursue criminal charges against a driver if they were sober yet negligent in a New York City fatal car accident. That's because New York's vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter laws have some of the tightest standards for conviction in the US. The scope for a civil lawsuit is far broader, though.
What are the civil consequences of fatal car accidents in New York City?
In the case where a family loses their loved one due to a fatal car accident, the beneficiaries of the victim can file a claim for wrongful death in the civil courts. A beneficiary is anyone who inherits money after a person's passing through a will or from a life insurance policy, annuity, or trust fund. Beneficiaries are commonly spouses, children, grandchildren, or parents.
You could be entitled to compensation for the funeral and burial expenses of your loved one, as well as any medical expenses incurred from the accident. Additionally, you may be able to receive compensation for lost wages and benefits your loved one would have earned had they not been killed in the accident. Pain and suffering could be awarded if the individual did not die immediately and loss of companionship or consortium is one further damage you could claim.
A wrongful death civil lawsuit is far easier than any criminal proceedings because the jury must reach a verdict of liability from the preponderance of the evidence instead of beyond all reasonable doubt as in a criminal trial. That means the evidence and testimony of witnesses and experts all amount to a greater than 50% likelihood that the defendant is "guilty."
That's why it is crucial to find an experienced wrongful death attorney to handle your case. You need someone who has the knowledge, resources, and connections to thoroughly investigate your case and develop a compelling argument on your behalf.
Death From Car Wreck in New York City: What Should I Do?
If you lose a loved one in a car accident, you're probably not sure what comes next. Should you handle the insurance companies by yourself? At Morgan & Morgan, we believe that family comes first in these times, and no family should have to face the insurance companies and the legal system alone.
You should take some practical steps immediately after an accident, including contacting a personal injury lawyer you can trust to conduct a deep-dive investigation into the circumstances around the fatality.
They may advise you to have the coroner conduct an autopsy to document the injuries your loved one sustained, including the exact cause of death. After putting your loved one to rest, someone will need to assume responsibility for the deceased's estate. That person known as the executor has the legal right to manage the deceased's legal and financial affairs.
The insurance company of the at-fault party will need to be notified of a wrongful death claim. Your personal injury attorney will take responsibility for this. In fact, your lawyer will handle all communications moving forward, leaving you with more time to deal with the grieving process.
If you have medical bills piling up, your lawyer should also advise or take the reins on how to handle these bills during the probate process. We can contact hospitals and their staff requesting that they suspend payment until a settlement or jury verdict has arrived. It's very important to stay on top of bills because it can complicate the probate process if they go to collections.
Finally, to make sure you get the compensation you deserve, Morgan & Morgan's wrongful death attorneys will offer evidence to the insurance companies as to the value of your claim. If they do not come back with a fair settlement offer or try to dispute their driver's liability, we'll prepare to go to trial.
What if the person at fault for the accident is deceased?
Even if the person at fault died in the accident as well as your loved one, you should still be able to pursue damages from their insurance company. You will need to go through their estate, and the deceased driver's estate will have to go through probate. The estate is parceled out during this process to pay outstanding debts and deliver inheritances to the remaining family and beneficiaries.
When you pursue a claim like this, you become a creditor and can receive payment when your claim is won or settled. Whether the person at fault died for another reason or because of the accident in which you lost your loved one, the process is the same. In situations like this, it's crucial to hire a lawyer to represent your interest because probate court deadlines have to be met.
Why should I work with Morgan & Morgan for my death from a car wreck in New York City claim?
We have offices located throughout the country and now have more than 800 trial-ready lawyers ready to fight the good fight for our clients. Even though we're one of the largest law firms in the US, we still hold family values dear as we are a family-owned business. With consistent growth year after year and thousands upon thousands of successful verdicts, we believe our track record speaks for itself.
In wrongful death lawsuits, you're typically looking at going up against enormous insurance companies that exist for profit alone. While you've been dealing with your grief, these insurance companies have already started the process of reducing your claim or coming up with strategies on how to deny it outright.
They understand you're already coming from the point of weakness and may settle for less than your claim is truly worth. They will use this against you. At Morgan & Morgan, we understand how these insurance companies work, and we're ready to tilt the odds in your favor. If you're ready to fight, so are we. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.