fatal car accident

When someone passes away in a fatal car accident, a family member should be able to file a claim and sue for wrongful death damages. These are meant to reimburse you for the economic impact your family member had on the household and the trauma that you all went through when you lost them. Our Westchester County wrongful death attorneys can help guide you through this process and fight for the compensation that you and your family deserve.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Car Accident?

The right to file a wrongful death claim is reserved for close family members in New York. The following get priority, in this order:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased

So if someone passes away in a fatal car accident without a spouse or children, the parents can sue. If they were married, the parents cannot make a claim and only the spouse of the deceased can pursue damages.

What Kind of Damages Can I Sue For After a Fatal Car Accident?

When you sue for wrongful death damages, you are suing for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can reimburse you for costs like:

  • Your loved one’s medical bills
  • The loss of your loved one’s income
  • Funeral and burial costs

The non-economic damages are there to make up for the other costs of the accident that are harder to quantify. This can include compensation meant to make up for:

  • The loss of companionship, care, or mentorship
  • The pain and suffering of the deceased and their loved ones

In some cases, a plaintiff can also pursue punitive damages. These are not meant to reimburse you for the costs of the accident. Instead, they are meant to punish a defendant for particularly egregious or reckless behavior. This is usually an option when a fatal car accident involves a drunk driver. That driver knew that drinking and driving was dangerous, but they did it anyway.

Do I Need an Attorney?

It can be helpful to have an attorney on your side during this process. Your attorney can:

  • Gather evidence
  • Talk to accident reconstruction experts and recreate the accident scene
  • Calculate fair compensation
  • Talk to insurers and other involved parties on your behalf
  • Answer your questions about the legal process
  • Keep you updated on the progress of your case

How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim?

There is a limited amount of time to take legal action. You must make your claim within two years of your family member’s death. The accident itself does not start the timer on the statute of limitations. If your loved one receives care for a few days or weeks and then passes away, that is the date that matters.

Contact Our Law Firm

If you want to learn more about your legal options or how wrongful death cases work, contact Hausman & Pendzick. We can schedule a consultation and take a closer look at your case.