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Fatal Car Accidents

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It is a tragic fact of our transportation system that fatal car accidents occur all too frequently. On average, someone is killed every 14 minutes in a traffic related accident. In 2009, there were over 30,000 fatal accidents involving a motor vehicle. The majority of persons killed or injured in a traffic crash are drivers. Passengers are killed in over 20 percent of all fatal crashes.

In 2010, there were 1,200 traffic fatalities in New York. Alcohol-impaired driving resulted in 364 deaths, while speeding accounted for 335. During this time, there were 632 passenger vehicle fatalities, 184 motorcyclist fatalities, and 303 pedestrian fatalities.

During the same year, there 45 people were killed in traffic accidents in Manhattan, 69 in Queens, 50 in the Bronx, 25 in Staten Island, and 79 in Brooklyn.

In just the month of November 2011, six motorists and one passenger were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the City of New York.

Causes of Fatal Auto Accidents

Motor vehicles are inherently dangerous. They must be operated in a careful and responsible manner. When they are not, accidents result. Human error is a significant cause of of fatal car accidents. Some of these factors include:

study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that sleepiness played a role in 17-percent of all fatal car crashes. Drivers of the age of 16-24 were almost twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving car accident as drivers age 40-59.

New York Wrongful Death Law

When the accident was due to the fault of another person or entity, the estate of the decedent and the decedent’s distributees have certain rights and remedies. In New York, there are two distinct postmortem actions causes of action that may be brought: a wrongful death claim and a personal injury survival action.

Wrongful Death

A claim for wrongful death is brought by the executor of the estate assuming there is a will, or by the administrator or administratrix of the estate in case of intestacy. Limited Letters of Administration may be issued by the Surrogate for the purposes bringing the lawsuit. The administrator pursues the claim for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving distributees. Damages for wrongful death are limited to economic damages, and may include:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of services, society and companionship
  • Loss of parental care and guidance
  • Funeral expenses
The jury will be instructed to exclude emotional considerations from their deliberation. In addition, no recovery may be had for the decedent’s pain and suffering. Such damages are restricted to the survival action. Any award for wrongful death is considered to be a property right belonging to the distributees and is not part of the decedent’s estate.

Survival Action

If the decedent was alive and conscious immediately prior to death, a personal injury survival action may be brought to seek recovery for the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering. Any damages recovered for pain and suffering are considered property of the estate. The death of the decedent is not an element of damages, which is limited to the wrongful death claim.

Tax Consequences

Once an award or settlement arising from the fatal car accident is obtained, the damages received from the wrongful death claim or survival action present different tax consequences.

In New York, an award for wrongful death is not considered to be part of the decedent’s estate for federal or New York State estate tax purposes. The award is also not subject to the claims of creditors of the decedent’s estate. The award, however, is subject to the claims of the distributees’ creditors since they are the owners of the property interest.

An award in a survival action for pain and suffering of the decedent is included in the deceased’s gross estate for tax purposes. This award is also subject to the claims of the creditors of the estate, including federal tax liens.

Distribution of the Award

Since an award for pain and suffering is property of the decedent’s estate, it will be distributed under the decedent’s will, or according to the rules of intestacy in the case of no will.

An award for wrongful death award will be shared among the decedent’s distributees.

The settlement of a wrongful death claim must be approved by the Surrogate Court if the Limited Letters of Administration restricted the right to settle without prior approval.

New York City Wrongful Death Attorney

It would be easy to say that we understand the hardships and grieving you are forced to endure when a loved one has been killed in a New York fatal car accident or other traffic related accident. No one that doesn’t stand in your shoes can feel your deep pain and anguish caused by sudden loss of a loved one.

We do, however, know that you have concerns for the future that grow with each passing day. There are financial burdens that must be met, especially when the loss involves the primary wage earner of the family. We know that you have questions. We have the answers. We know what needs to be done to protect your rights and assist you through this difficult time.

Since 1987, Mr. DiMartini has assisted people who have lost a loved one in a fatal New York car accident. With his years of experience, he knows the law and how to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your tragic loss.

Personal injury law is all we do. We know how to get results!

Contact Us

If your loved one has been killed in a New York fatal car accident, we are here to fight for your rights. Call Mr. DiMartini directly at 1.844.299.0030. You can also contact us online. The consultation is free. There is never a fee unless we win your case!

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