In 2017 alone 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. Similar figures were seen in 2019.  The loss of a family member in a preventable crash can be devastating. When a death is caused by the negligence of another on New York roads, surviving family members may be entitled to benefit in a wrongful death claim.  An experienced New York wrongful death attorney can help to ensure that rights are protected and those entitled to benefit in a wrongful death claim receive maximum compensation.  

What is Distracted Driving? 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are three main types of distraction: 

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road 
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel 
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving 

Texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, and even talking to passengers can all be examples of distracted driving when such activities take attention away from the task of driving.  

New York Distracted Driving Laws 

In New York, it is generally against the law to use a cellphone while driving. It is also against the law to use a handheld electronic device while driving. This can include talking on the phone, checking email, sending text messages, and using social media. If a motorist does not follow this law, that motorist may be subject to a fine, and driver violation points.  

Motorists are also required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist,
pedestrian, or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.   

Holding a Distracted Driver Responsible for Wrongful Death 

New York recognizes that surviving close family members may be entitled to receive benefits in a  wrongful-death claim against at-fault motorists whose distracted driving caused or contributed to a wrongful death.  

What is a Wrongful Death Claim? 

A wrongful-death claim can be asserted in a civil lawsuit against the party whose negligence caused or contributed to the wrongful death. To succeed, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligence was the cause of death and that surviving family members suffered compensable damages as a result.  

Who Can File a Wrongful-Death Claim in New York? 

A wrongful death action can be commenced against the liable party or parties by a “personal representative of a decedent,” which the Estates, Powers & Trusts Law defines as “a person who has received letters to administer the estate of a decedent.” 

This personal representative will have received from a court either “letters of administration” (if the decedent died without a will) or “letters testamentary” (if the decedent died with a will). 

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful-Death Claim in New York? 

It is important to understand that there is a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim in New York. At the time of this writing, the statute of limitations for this claim is two years from the date of death. This may seem like a long time, but it is important to remember that building a strong case can take time because it requires evidence to be gathered.  

Proving Liability in Wrongful Death Due to Distracted-Driving Claims 

Generally speaking, in order to successfully bring a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the death was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of the other driver. An experienced New York wrongful death attorney can help gather evidence and advocate on behalf of the estate.  

How William Mattar Can Help 

The attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. have experience helping after a wrongful death on New York roads, including wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving. The Grieving Families Act was recently passed in New York. If signed into law by the governor, this piece of legislation could dramatically alter wrongful death cases in the state.  Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, and can represent clients throughout New York. Call (844) 444-4444 today.

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