Pedestrians are vulnerable to serious injuries and even death in car accidents since they are afforded no safety or protection when compared to vehicles. It is therefore incumbent on drivers to be cognizant of pedestrians and to use care when operating their vehicle in areas where pedestrians are frequently present. A failure to do so can expose drivers to significant liability for any damages suffered by injured pedestrians and their families.
A fatal accident occurred recently in New York that resulted in the death of a female pedestrian. The accident took place when a taxi, travelling down a street, was struck by another vehicle that was exiting a parking space. The cab veered out of control and struck the woman, pinning her against a pole. The collision caused severe trauma to the woman’s legs. She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but died from her injuries upon arriving there. Authorities do not feel there was any criminality involved from either driver in the accident.
The death of a person as a result of negligent or improper conduct on the part of another individual or entity is considered a wrongful death. Every state, including New York, has a wrongful death statute that governs who can bring a wrongful death action and the circumstances that must exist for such an action. The required elements of a successful action are the death of a person caused by the negligence or harmful intent of another, surviving family members that suffer financial injury and a personal representative appointed to the victim’s estate. The damages awarded in a successful action are equivalent to the pecuniary injury suffered as a result of the victim’s death. Factors in such a determination include medical and funeral expenses, loss of support, loss of inheritance and loss of income. Although officials felt that there was no criminality in the case above, that wouldn’t prevent the pedestrian’s family from bringing a wrongful death action if one of the drivers was negligent in the operation of their vehicle.
Family members of fatal accident victims may be entitled to compensation for any damages that result from the accident. Although no monetary award can fully compensate them for their loss, they should be aware of their rights to compensation and from whom they may collect.