How many people die from DUI crashes varies from year to year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2018, 10,511 people died in drunk driving accidents in the U.S. This represents billions of dollars in damages and an incalculable human toll.
If your loved one was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk or intoxicated driver, you may be able to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Working with a Lawyer on Your Case
It is understandable if you do not feel up to handling complex legal matters after the death of a loved one. A wrongful death lawyer may be able to manage your case and fight for compensation on your behalf. Every case is different, but here is a general idea of what a lawyer can do for you:
- Investigate your accident: it is important to understand your accident as thoroughly as possible. A lawyer can help you find evidence, such as police reports or surveillance video, to back up your version of events.
- Identify all liable parties: the investigation may also confirm that the drunk driver was at fault and/or reveal other parties who bear partial responsibility for the crash, e.g., a maintenance crew that left hazardous material in the roadway.
- Negotiate: if the liable party’s insurance company is reluctant to pay a fair settlement, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf. This may involve meeting with the company representative and showing them the evidence collected earlier.
- Go to trial: if negotiations hit a standstill, you and your lawyer can discuss the possibility of going to trial, where your lawyer can represent you.
- Advise you: sometimes, it is hard to know when to settle and when to go to trial. If you hire an attorney, you can have someone on your side who can provide legal advice and help you make decisions regarding your case.
Finally, you do not have to worry about how you will pay for a lawyer. Many law firms operate on a contingency-fee-basis, where they do not charge attorney fees unless and until you recover compensation.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The types of damages that you may be able to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the laws of your state and the nature of your losses.
In general, one type of compensation you may qualify for is economic damages. This can help you pay your accident-related expenses. Some specific types of economic damages that may be available in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Medical bills: if your loved one received medical treatment before they passed away.
- Funeral bills: if you had to pay to lay your loved one to rest.
- Loss of wages: this may refer to money your loved one could not earn after the accident or money they would have earned in the future if they had not passed away.
You may also be entitled to non-economic damages. These are often the most difficult to calculate. Some specific types of non-economic damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Pain and suffering: your loved one may have experienced physical and/or emotional anguish because of their injuries.
- Loss of society or companionship: you and your family may have suffered without your deceased loved one’s presence, guidance, and support.
Suing After a Drunk Driving Death
Each state has a time limit to how long you have to sue:
- New York: according to New York Estates, Powers & Trusts (EPT) §5-4.1, you have only two years from the date of your loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- New Jersey: New Jersey Statutes (NJ Stat) §2A:31-3 imposes a general two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in New Jersey.
- Pennsylvania: per Pennsylvania Statutes 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524, there is a general two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits in Pennsylvania.
If you think you may qualify for monetary compensation after a fatal DUI crash, it is a good idea to start preparing your lawsuit as soon as possible.
Call Morelli Law Firm Today
Morelli Law Firm believes in holding drunk and intoxicated drivers accountable for their negligent actions.
If your loved one was one of the many people that die from DUI crashes each year, Morelli Law Firm may be able to help you. We represent surviving family members in wrongful death lawsuits in New York City, Long Island, New York State up to Albany, Northern New Jersey, and Philadelphia.
For a free consultation on your case with a member of our team, call Morelli Law Firm today at (212) 751-9800.