Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were about 4,700 motorcyclists killed in fatal motorcycle collisions in 2013, which was a representative year. This was about 14% of all traffic fatalities. If a loved one was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident caused by a careless driver, the Syracuse motorcycle accident attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to help you recover damages through a wrongful death claim. We understand what you are going through and can handle the entire legal process on your behalf while you cope with the loss of your loved one.Holding a Driver Accountable for a Fatal Motorcycle Accident
Operating a motorcycle can be dangerous, and for many motorcyclists, that is part of the fun. However, when someone is on a motorcycle, there is no buffer between that person and the possible force of a collision. A collision can result in catastrophic injuries or instant death, depending on the speeds at which the vehicles were previously traveling. The death of a loved one in a motorcycle collision can be devastating. When a car driver caused the accident, it may be possible to recover damages.
If you are the personal representative of the deceased motorcycle rider's estate, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Unlike some other states, New York does not let family members bring these claims unless they serve as the personal representative of the motorcyclist's estate. Your attorney will need to show that each of the following is more likely than not:
- The motorcyclist's death was caused by the defendant's negligent conduct;
- The situation would have permitted the motorcyclist to pursue a cause of action had they not died; and
- Someone survived who experienced a loss due to the motorcyclist's death.
A plaintiff trying to recover damages based on a defendant's negligent conduct will need to show that the defendant owed a duty of reasonable care, breached that duty, and thereby caused fatal injuries to the motorcyclist. For example, if the driver of a passenger car was distracted at an intersection and hit a motorcyclist making a left turn, it is likely that you would be able to establish that the driver's negligent conduct caused the death of the motorcyclist. Similarly, if a driver of a commercial tractor-trailer fails to check a blind spots and collides with a motorcyclist, it is likely that the court would find that he was negligent.
Although a family member who is not a personal representative of the motorcyclist's estate is not permitted to pursue a wrongful death claim, a purpose of the wrongful death lawsuit is to recover damages for losses suffered by family members. When damages are awarded, the personal representative of the estate holds those damages in trust for the family members to whom the award belongs.
Economic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim arising out of a motorcycle accident include funeral expenses, medical expenses for emergency care or hospitalization if the death did not happen right away, and lost wages for the time between the injury and the death. Noneconomic damages that may be available include the loss of services provided by the deceased motorcyclist to their family members, any conscious pain and suffering endured by the motorcyclist due to the injuries that they suffered prior to dying, and the value of parental care to any surviving children.
Unlike in some other states, family members who survive a motorcyclist's death in a fatal motorcycle accident cannot recover damages for their own mental anguish, loss of companionship, or pain and suffering. Instead, damages may be recovered for loss of services, such as loss of parental services or loss of services performed by a child like household chores.Explore Your Legal Options with a Syracuse Attorney Following a Fatal Crash
A fatal motorcycle accident can be devastating for the surviving family members. If a loved one was killed in a collision caused by a careless driver, our law firm may be able to help you recover damages from the responsible parties. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents victims in Syracuse, Rochester, Lyons, Ithaca, Cooperstown, Oswego, Canandaigua, Utica, Wampsville, Oneida, Lowville, Watertown, Herkimer, Delhi, Cortland, Norwich, Elmira, Auburn, and Binghamton. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation with an attorney.