When Is a Long Island Car Accident a Wrongful Death?

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

If your loved one was killed in a car accident and the other driver was at fault, then New York’s “no fault” laws no longer keep you from suing. Death is one of the car accident results that pushes a case past the “injury threshold” for a lawsuit.

In addition, your loved one’s PIP death benefit is usually only $2000, which is not even enough for a modest funeral.

Wrongful death compensation, by contrast, covers:

  • All funeral and burial costs
  • Healthcare expenses connected to the final injury
  • Monetary support the decedent would have contributed to the family
  • The value of services the decedent would have contributed
  • Damages for your bereavement, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship
  • Damages for the survivor’s lost inheritance

A wrongful death suit is filed on behalf of the victim’s immediate family. The executor of the decedent’s estate must be the one to file the suit.

The decedent’s estate may also bring a survivorship action. This is to compensate the estate for the victim’s pre-death pain and suffering. The claim becomes part of the estate and is distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will, if they have one, or according to New York’s intestacy laws, if they don’t. These damages can be quite high; it’s not unheard of for a survivorship claim to be worth over a million dollars to the estate. Yet your lawyer must fight for the value of the claim, as it’s somewhat subjective.

To win such a suit, you must prove the other driver was negligent, that your loved one died as a result of that negligence, and that you’ve suffered a loss as a result. You must also bring the case within two years of the accident. You must also show that you had a reasonable expectation of support from the victim. 

These cases are not easy to win, nor is it easy to obtain full recovery amounts. The insurance company has a vested interest in painting your loved one as the at-fault party. Barring that, they will try to use New York’s comparative negligence law to increase your loved one’s percentage of fault. Every percentage point cuts into your recovery. That is, if your loved one is found to be 20% at fault then your award is reduced by 20%.

It is best for executors to bring both wrongful death claims and survivorship claims as quickly as possible. Not only does this avoid the danger that the statute of limitations might put an end to the case, but it also ensures that we have time to collect all applicable evidence.

Have a case for us? Contact us to set up a case evaluation today.

See also:

How No-Fault Laws Impact Your Long Island Car Accident Case

What Happens in a Long Island Personal Injury Case if the At-Fault Driver Dies?

The Bronx, NY—Man Hit & Killed by Amazon Truck


About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.