Driving is dangerous: according to national statistics, traffic accidents are usually in the top ten of the most common causes of death. On top of that, compared to other regions of the state, the Hudson Valley is a very dangerous place to drive, due to long average commute times and crowded roads.

We’ve covered tips on how to ride a bike and motorcycle safely, and lots of tips on driving safely too. We’ve also covered some of the upcoming changes to Hudson Valley intersections and roundabouts that may reduce the risk of more accidents and deaths.

Today, we’re talking about wrongful death claims in car accidents. Most car accidents are the result of some kind of negligence; if you’ve lost a loved one in an accident, a wrongful death claim can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and compensate you for your pain and suffering. Give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free consultation at our offices in either Kingston or Poughkeepsie.

In New York State, there are five necessary elements to a wrongful death claim:

  • A death has occurred
  • It was caused by another party’s negligent conduct
  • If the victim had survived, they could have sued for damages
  • The victim has a survivor that suffered a loss
  • There are recoverable damages

There are usually two categories of recoverable damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Losses suffered by the deceased’s estate resulting from the death, including medical bills, funeral/burial expenses, and the value of lost wages or support or care that the family member was providing
  • Pain, suffering and loss of companionship for the deceased’s family members

If you’re a driver, we want you to drive as safely as possible all the time. We took a look at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration traffic fatality data from 2016-2018 in Ulster and Dutchess Counties and found the following trend:

Most local fatal accidents happen on local highways

A total of 47 fatal accidents happened across Route 9, Route 44/55, Route 28, Route 9W, Route 209, Route 22, Route 9D, Route 32, Route 52, Route 82, Route 9G, Route 216, Route 375 and Route 376.

The data only had a total of 86 fatal accidents, so that means that a majority of them take place on local, county highways.

Why is that?

It’s said, based on a variety of studies, that most car accidents take place within 25 miles of home. It’s believed that this is because the routine of driving on familiar roads makes drivers go into “auto-pilot” mode, making them less likely to pay attention to road conditions and other vehicles, and more likely to fiddle with the radio or look at their phones.

Local highways are a double-edged sword; not only are they familiar for local drivers, but they have a relatively high rate of speed compared to other local roads.

A basis for a wrongful death lawsuit on a local highway could include negligence on the part of other drivers, passengers, the conditions or design of the road, or a defect by the manufacturer of the vehicle.