New York ranks number 4 in terms of the least number of car crash deaths, but the position is probably not due to safety-conscious drivers in the Empire State.
Given the high number of densely-populated areas at the top (D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island) and the high number of sparsely-populated states at the bottom (Montana, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Alabama), there may simply be fewer drivers on the road in places that have a well-developed mass transit system. Moreover, larger and less-populated states feature high-speed roadways, and the speed on these highways helps turn fender-bender city crashes into fatal wrecks.
1,199 New Yorkers died in a car crash in 2013. At the same time, only 70 percent of New Yorkers over 16 have a license, which is one of the lowest percentages in the country.
New York law creates a special category for negligence lawsuits that involve a fatality. The wrongful death statute lays out some important procedural concerns, as well as the amount of money that plaintiffs may obtain.
The Empire State is a bit different in that only the “personal representative” of an estate can bring an action for wrongful death. Typically, the personal representative in a person’s will is a spouse or other family member, so this restriction may not mean much in practical terms. The elements of a claim are:
- A death,
- Caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct,
- An actionable case if the victim had survived (for example, New York does not recognize a claim for wrongful death of a fetus),
- At least one survivor who suffered an actual loss, and
Damages are limited to “pecuniary losses,” a broad term that includes:
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s final illness,
- Burial and funeral expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Lost inheritance,
- The decedent’s pain and suffering, and
- Lost parental nurturing and support of minor children.
Family members cannot recover money for their own grief.
The wrongful death statute applies to more than just car wrecks. Other types of wrongful death include poisoning (drug overdose or misuse), undiagnosed medical conditions, and construction accidents.
Wrongful death touches thousands of New York families. For a free consultation with aggressive lawyers, contact our office. Our firm offers a small-town atmosphere and access to nationwide resources.