Unfortunately, accidents are a possibility for anyone operating or riding in a vehicle, or walking near a roadway. They can occur for any number of reasons and can result in serious injury or even death. The loss of a loved one in an accident can be very difficult to deal with, especially when the accident is caused by a preventable and improper act, such as impaired driving.
A fatal accident recently occurred in New York when two vehicles collided with each other head-on. One of the drivers failed to stay in her own lane and crossed the center-line, at which point she struck a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. The driver of the other car died at the scene, while a passenger in his car suffered serious injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital. The female driver of the vehicle that crossed the center-line suffered minor injuries in the accident and was treated at the same hospital. She has been charged with vehicular homicide, assault by auto, DWI, reckless driving, failure to keep right and open container, for having an open bottle of wine in her vehicle.
A wrongful death is found when a person is killed as a result of the negligence or improper conduct of another person or entity. A wrongful death action belongs to the immediate family members of the victim, typically their spouse and children, and sometimes their parents. To bring a successful wrongful death action, the plaintiffs must prove the death of a person that was caused by the negligence or harmful intent of another. The plaintiffs must also prove that there are surviving family members of the victim that have suffered pecuniary injury as a result and that the victim’s estate has a personal representative.
If successful, plaintiffs may receive damages for their loss. Pecuniary injury is the typical measure of damages and is meant to compensate the surviving family members for the monetary value of the victim’s life. Factors involved in this determination include medical and funeral expenses, loss of support, loss of future earnings and loss of guidance.
The financial injury suffered by surviving family members when a wrongful death occurs can be significant. As such, it is important that they are aware of their rights to compensation for their damages.