Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Recovering Compensation after an Auto Accident with Fatalities

Will I be compensated if the driver who caused my injuries died in the auto accident?

At best, a car accident is a frustrating inconvenience to all parties involved. But when people are injured --or the worst case scenario unfolds and fatalities result-- it’s a tragedy with substantial losses. The need for expert legal counsel is urgent.

In fact, it’s highly recommended that you reach out to our firm, which is experienced in auto accident claims before making any formal statements, even to your own insurance carrier. Failure to do so may result in your words being used against you. For example, you could unwittingly implicate yourself as having caused the accident. Or, even if you clearly were not at fault, you could innocently downplay or describe your injuries in a manner that negatively impacts your ability to recover compensation. Only your treating doctor's will know the full extent of your injuries, and often times it takes extensive diagnostic testing for your doctor's to diagnose the injuries caused by the accident. 

Since New York is a “no-fault” state, a party injured in an automobile accident has their first $50,000 in “economic losses” paid by the insurance carrier of the car s/he was riding in (or hit by, in the case of injured pedestrians) at the time of the accident. That is why it is mandatory for car owners to carry “no-fault”/personal injury protection insurance. “Economic losses” include expenses such as medical bills and lost wages. For economic losses in excess of the $50,000 threshold, and pain and suffering, the issue of fault--who caused the accident--becomes relevant.

So what happens if the driver who caused the accident you were injured in, died from their injuries? Can you still recover for these excessive losses?

Oftentimes, accidents that are serious enough to cause a fatality also leave survivors with extensive injuries as well—“serious injuries” for which compensation over the $50,000 threshold is warranted. These claims include economic losses above the threshold as well as non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering related to a “serious injury”). The insurance carrier for the “at fault” driver may be responsible for paying the surviving victims’ claims up to the maximum value of the insurance policy—whether the driver survives or not.

On May 31, 2016, a Cheektowaga woman was killed in an auto accident when the car she was driving allegedly crossed over into another lane and struck a car heading in the opposite direction, injuring that car’s driver. An investigation is ongoing and police are asking witnesses to come forward with any information.

With so much riding on the determination of fault in accidents with serious injuries and extensive losses, it’s important to get an attorney on your side as soon as possible after an accident. Experienced auto accident attorneys can immediately take action on your behalf, get involved in the investigation, aid in the preservation of photographic and other evidence, and gather witness statements before facts are forgotten, thereby maximizing your compensation upon settlement or trial.

The Western New York-based practice of Wellborn Paluch has experienced accident attorneys to help you and your loved ones get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. They’re accessible 24/7 and can promptly have an attorney by your side, often before you—and any important evidence—has left the accident scene. And they’ll stay with you every step of the way.

If you or your loved ones were injured in an automobile accident, please call the Buffalo, New York auto accident attorneys at Wellborn Paluch today at 1-844-855-HURT or 716-254-2554 for a free consultation. Or, click here for more information or to request a free consultation online.

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