When someone is injured in a motorcycle accident, the law allows them to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for compensation. However, if the injured person doesn’t survive, family members may wonder if they have any way to recover against the responsible party. Perhaps you’ve heard about wrongful death claims and would like to know if they can file one on behalf of your loved one.
New York law limits who can file a wrongful death claim. Below, the attorneys at TonaLaw describe some general information about suing on behalf of a deceased person for wrongful death claims in New York. We include information on who can file a lawsuit if your family member dies in an accident. We also discuss potential compensation and how long it takes to settle a wrongful death suit.
Suing on behalf of a deceased person in a wrongful death claim is a complicated process. If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim, speak with one of our personal injury attorneys today. We can advise you on your rights and help you prepare the strongest possible case to maximize your chances to get compensation.
What Is Wrongful Death in New York?
A wrongful death in New York is defined as a death that results from a wrongful or negligent act by a person who would otherwise be liable in a personal injury lawsuit had the deceased person survived. In other words, if the deceased person would have been able to file a personal injury case against the responsible party if they’d survived, the death is considered a wrongful death.
Proving a wrongful death claim after a motorcycle accident generally involves the same legal standards of negligence as when the victim survives. A wrongful death claim can arise from
- Negligence—a driver fails to act with reasonable care, causing an accident that results in a motorcyclist’s death;
- An intentional act—road rage could cause a driver to try to harm a motorcyclist on purpose; or
- Strict liability—a defective part on the motorcycle causes an accident and the motorcyclist’s death.
Unlike in other personal injury claims, someone other than the victim must investigate and pursue the wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased rider.
What Are Common Causes of a Wrongful Death from a Motorcycle Accident?
A wrongful death can result from many of the same causes as any vehicular accident. In a motorcycle accident, wrongful death claims in a motorcycle accident could be caused by:
- Driving under the influence,
- Distracted driving or riding,
- Failing to check any unseen areas when changing lanes,
- A defective bike,
- Improper maintenance of a vehicle, and
- Improper signage on the road.
This is not an exhaustive list of motorcycle wrongful death claims. However, knowing the cause of the accident is imperative to finding the person or persons who are potentially responsible for a claim.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death After a Motorcycle Accident in New York?
Family members of deceased loved ones often think that suing on behalf of a deceased person is their right. However, each state’s law specifies who can sue on behalf of a deceased person in a wrongful death claim. In New York, only the deceased person’s personal representative can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased.
A personal representative is typically defined as the executor of the deceased person’s estate or the estate’s administrator if the deceased person did not leave a will. The deceased person’s representative could feasibly be a family member or friend, but it depends on the specifics of the will or a decision by the court.
If an executor or administrator refuses to bring a wrongful death case, the law permits those who stand to inherit from the deceased person to ask the court to appoint a separate representative to pursue a case.
What Compensation Is Available in a Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A personal representative suing on behalf of a deceased person can seek different types of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses from before the person’s death;
- Wages or other support the deceased person would have provided their family;
- Pain and suffering before the victim’s death; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
In a wrongful death claim, family members cannot sue for their own mental anguish or loss of consortium because the wrongful death claim is on behalf of the deceased.
Unlike in a personal injury case, where the compensation goes to the injured person, in a wrongful death case, compensation goes to the people most harmed by the death. This is sometimes determined through a hearing if there’s a dispute between the surviving family members about who was most harmed.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Suit?
Grieving family members often wonder how long it takes to settle a wrongful death suit. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer on this matter. How long it takes to settle a wrongful death suit varies depending on the circumstances of each case. Some cases settle quickly. Others never settle and require a trial for the deceased person’s estate to receive compensation.
Many factors impact how long it takes to settle a wrongful death suit. Some of these factors include:
- The strength of the evidence;
- The availability of a personal representative;
- Whether a court must appoint a personal representative;
- Whether insurance companies are involved;
- The amount of compensation demanded;
- Whether the liability of the responsible party is clear; and
- Whether the personal representative hires a fierce advocate and strong negotiator to represent them.
Like in a motorcycle accident claim where the rider survived, even in the best circumstances, it’s impossible to predict how long it will take to settle a wrongful death claim. It’s important to hire an attorney with experience negotiating motorcycle claims and fighting claims in court to ensure your rights are fully protected regardless of what happens in your case.
What Is the Filing Deadline for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit from a Motorcycle Crash?
Generally, personal representatives have two years to file a lawsuit in most wrongful death claims arising from a motorcycle accident. However, if there’s a pending criminal case against the responsible party for their actions from the accident, then the personal representative has one year from the resolution of the criminal case to file the wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact TonaLaw’s Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for a Wrongful Death Claim
The last thing you need after the death of your loved one from a motorcycle accident is an attorney that makes you feel like it is just another case. If you’re on Long Island, you can turn to the compassionate, client-centered attorneys at TonaLaw for your legal needs. We understand the devastation you may feel after your loved one’s death. We’ve represented many people in wrongful death claims arising from motorcycle accidents in New York and can use our knowledge and resources to fight for justice for your loved one. Contact us today.