The unexpected death of a loved one can result in years of emotional trauma for those who are left behind. In addition to losing companionship and support, the surviving family also loses the victim's income and future earning potential. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible for a victim's family to be compensated for damages incurred as a result of a fatal accident under New York's personal injury laws.
For example, a 54-year-old woman was recently struck and killed by a bus operated by the county in Queens. The woman was crossing a street with her daughter when the bus hit her. According to a witness, the victim had a walk signal at the time she attempted to cross the intersection.
Officials have ruled out any criminal activity on the part of the bus driver, but are still investigating the accident. The driver was subjected to drug and alcohol screening tests after the accident, and the results are currently unavailable.
A wrongful death action may be available if a person's death is caused by the negligence or improper conduct of another person or entity. Such an action can only be made by the personal representative of the victim's estate, but the action belongs to the victim's spouse, children and, in certain cases, parents.
In order to bring a wrongful death action, a loved one's death must be caused by the negligence or harmful intent of another person. As a result of the death, the surviving family members must suffer financial injury. Damages are measured by the extent of the financial burden to the family. Among the factors involved in such a determination are medical and funeral costs, loss of income, loss of guidance and potential future earnings.
In this particular case, liability may not be assessed as it would between two private parties, since it was a bus operated by a municipality. Though the process for filing a wrongful death may be slightly different, the woman's family may still have legal options available.
The death of an accident victim can be a tremendous emotional and financial burden to their surviving family members. Although no amount of money can fully compensate their loss, it is important that they know their rights and ability to recover compensation for their losses.