What to do After a Fatal Accident

With car crashes on the rise each year it is important to realize that motor vehicle accidents, to any degree, require elaborate care. Fatal accident lawsuits are involved and can be complicated for loved ones to handle. By definition, a fatal car crash involves a person who dies within 30 days of a crash on a U.S. public road, involving a vehicle with an engine- the death, therefore, being a result of the crash. It’s a phone call no one wants to receive, however, having a strong understanding of what steps to take will allow for a comprehensible and judicious process.

1. Do Not Handle a Wrongful Death Case Alone

First and foremost, you shouldn’t handle the aftermath of a fatal car accident alone. The loss of a loved one is an event that requires time. It is healthy to take the time to process the plethora of emotions and properly grieve. In such an event, finding representation will not only ensure the proper handling of the legal procedure but ease your responsibilities during a time of grief.  In such grave instances, one should partner with a law firm that focuses on personal injury and wrongful death cases. The Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., handles the legal end for you. Our firm works hard to only ease your stress in such a tumultuous time by performing the legwork to assist you in obtaining justice and compensation for your family.

In a fatal accident, it can be especially difficult for loved ones to execute the tasks required with all motor vehicle accidents. Simple acts such as reporting the crash to the insurance companies can be daunting.  At the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., you can trust us to act in your family’s best interest, affording you the opportunity to heal while the insurance claim and lawsuit is being covered.   

2. Commencing Legal Action

As in every accident, we allow our clients to choose how involved they are with their case.  Some clients feel proactive by assisting in their case and investigation and prefer frequent updates. It helps others heal faster if they are not burdened by regular involvement.  Either way, commencing a legal action is often therapeutic, comforting, and an integral part of the grieving process.  In a fatal accident, we understand the emotional, financial, and personal struggles and hope to lessen your sorrow by making the legal aspect as smooth as possible.  

3. Collecting Evidence

Further, it is valuable to realize that fatal accident lawsuits can be expensive and difficult to prove. With such, it is vital to collect evidence, photos, and witness information. In the days following the accident, you may receive phone calls, emails and social media messages from witnesses who can provide important details. Be sure to take note of their contact information, including their full name, phone number, email address and mailing address. Your attorney may wish to contact these people, as it will permit your lawyer to help build a stronger case.

4. The Importance of Not Sharing Information

In addition, insurance companies of the at-fault driver will try to contact you and the family of the decedent. Do not to give any statements to the other side’s insurance company, as any answers you provide may be used against you. Guard your responses and do not divulge any details. If an insurance company contacts you, you may wish to inform them that you only want them to speak with your attorneys. In a similar manner, you may receive documentation in the mail from the insurance company of the at-fault motorist. Resist from signing any papers without the advice of counsel, as they could include a form that ends the claim immediately and indefinitely. No-Fault applications may be required for loss of consortium claims. A skilled personal injury firm, such as Tocci Law, can assist you in providing the correct paperwork to the insurance company.  

5. Proceeding in Regards to a Will

In a fatal accident, extra steps must be taken in order to pursue a lawsuit.  An Administrator or Executor needs to be appointed by the Surrogate’s Court. If the decedent had a Will, he/she will have named an Executor prior to their untimely death.  This person is the party who is legally permitted to file a lawsuit.  Determining whether your loved one has a Will is a difficult step to take, give then unexpected nature of their passing, However, if there is a Will, the information specified as their final wishes will help shape the remaining steps. In the event the decedent did not execute a Will, the laws of New York State will govern the eligible parties who may be eligible to be the Administrator. because a fatal accident is unexpected and sudden, decedents frequently do not have a Will. This leaves family members to figure out the decedent’s estate matters. Such a claim may be brought by the child of the decedent, parent of the decedent, the spouse of the decedent, or the personal representative of the estate of the decedent. Be that as it may, a sibling or cousin of the decedent generally cannot bring a wrongful death claim lawsuit in New York, specifically if there is a surviving spouse, child or parent of the decedent. At Tocci Law, we can advise you on the parties who are eligible to be named the Executor/Administrator and petition the Surrogate’s Court for the legal documents required to start your action.

6. The Final Arrangements

One of the most difficult parts of this experience will be to make the final arrangements. More often than not, the sudden nature of a fatal crash may leave your loved ones devastated. Therefore, during this time it is best to lean on family and friends for support and comfort. The opposing insurance company may offer to pay for the funeral costs, however, consult with your attorney before agreeing to anything.

Remember, no matter how difficult the loss of a loved one is, you will get through it. Hire counsel to advocate for your recovering rights and focus on yourself and your family. In retrospect, with all the legalities, jargon, paperwork and proceeding, be sure to find the time among the administrative proceedings to honor and celebrate your loved one.

If your loved one passed away in a motor vehicle accident, schedule an appointment with the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., to discuss your unique situation and learn your rights and options (631) 343-7676.