Can the Victim’s Family Sue for Vehicular Homicide in New York?
Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult, but having one taken from you in the act of vehicular homicide is an unspeakable tragedy. A victim’s family members are often left wondering how to account for this loss in their life.
Fortunately, a New York attorney experienced in vehicular homicide cases can be helpful. Family members who have lost a loved one to vehicular homicide can recover damages in a civil wrongful death lawsuit which can be filed without the driver being charged or convicted of the crime. However, there are important rules for filing a wrongful death claim that victims’ families should be aware of.
If you are considering suing for vehicular homicide, our New York car accident attorneys can help you get the justice you deserve. For a free case review, contact The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.
Can Victims Sue the Responsible Driver for Vehicular Homicide in New York?
After suffering the loss of a loved one to vehicular homicide, most people understand that there are usually criminal charges against the criminal driver. However, some might not be aware that they can also recover compensation from the driver in civil court for their loved one’s wrongful death.
What is Vehicular Homicide?
New York law recognizes two types of vehicular homicide, first-degree and second-degree vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide is a legal term of art that refers to a killing distinct from intentional homicide. Vehicular homicide involves drivers who were driving illegally when they caused a person’s death and were aware of the risks to others on the road but disregarded them.
Fortunately, there is no requirement that a driver must be convicted of vehicular homicide before pursuing a claim for wrongful death damages in New York. In fact, a civil wrongful death lawsuit can be filed after losing a loved one to vehicular homicide, even if criminal charges were not filed against the driver responsible for your loved one’s death.
Common Ways Vehicular Homicide Occurs
There are many ways that drivers can kill others on the road through their willful and wanton conduct. Vehicular homicide differs from intentional homicide in that a driver in a vehicular homicide case does not intend to cause a person’s death, unlike premeditated murder, which is the planned and intentional killing of another person. The following are common examples of behavior that causes vehicular homicide in New York:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Reckless or grossly negligent driving
- Texting or using technology while driving
- Road rage incidents
- Illegal street racing contests
If you lose a loved one because of the criminal behavior of another driver, you are entitled to compensation. Our Brooklyn car accident attorneys can help you regardless of the crime that took your family member’s life.
Which Family Members Can Sue for Vehicular Homicide in New York?
Many people are surprised to learn that family members who suffered the loss of a loved one because of vehicular homicide are not actually the parties permitted to file a wrongful death claim under New York law. However, family members are not barred from recovering compensation in a wrongful death claim, only from filing the lawsuit.
E.B.T Law § 5-4.1 allows the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members. A personal presentative is typically chosen by the deceased before their death to manage their estate and named in their will. However, the court will appoint one, usually another family member, if no representative is chosen.
Personal representatives will file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family members, but only certain family members can recover damages. In New York, only the immediate family will receive compensation for the loss of their loved one. Family members who can recover include spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. Our Syracuse car accident attorneys can help you if you lost a close family member and need to determine your options to recover compensation.
What Types of Compensation Can I Recover in a New York Vehicular Homicide Lawsuit?
A common question family members have when considering suing for vehicular homicide is what types of compensation might be available in their case. Calculating damages in a wrongful death case can be extremely complex, especially one caused by vehicular homicide. However, there is typically a larger range of damages you can recover for a wrongful death than in other personal injury cases.
According to E.P.T Law § 5-4.3, damages awarded for wrongful death, including vehicular homicide, should fairly and justly compensate a victim’s immediate family for the pecuniary losses they suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Damages for pecuniary injuries can cover a wide range of losses that a family member might have suffered. The following are the types of pecuniary damages that the family member of a vehicular homicide victim could be awarded in New York:
- Lost future wages and income
- Lost work benefits
- Loss of inheritance
- Damages for medical bills the deceased incurred before dying
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Loss of spousal services
- Loss of parental care and guidance
- Loss of services to the parents
The law governing wrongful death damages is broad. It grants the court great latitude in deciding the appropriate amount of damages that should be awarded as long as the compensation is fair and just.
Punitive damages are a special type of damages that are rarely rewarded in wrongful death cases. However, it would be appropriate to pursue punitive damages for a wrongful death caused by vehicular homicide. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate a family member but to punish a defendant in a civil case for egregious and reckless conduct, which fits the basic definition of vehicular homicide. Fortunately, family members are not prevented from pursuing punitive damages as part of their claim for damages. Our Binghamton car accident attorneys can help you prove your losses to recover the full range of damages you are entitled to.
Our New York Attorneys for Vehicular Homicide Can Help
If you have lost a loved one to vehicular homicide, our Elmhurst, NY car accident attorneys can help you get compensation from the driver responsible for your loss. Call The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083 for a free case assessment.