New York State law provides that in the event a person is killed as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the survivors are entitled to certain benefits.
Firstly, all medical treatment that was rendered prior to the person’s death (e.g., Ambulance, Emergency Room, objective tests such as MRI and CT Scan, etc) will be covered under the No Fault carrier’s Personal Injury Protection coverage. The state minimum (and most common coverage) is up to $50,000. The Extended PIP coverage is $150,000. All bills related to treatment prior to the person’s death should be sent to the No Fault carrier. (An “Application for No Fault Benefits” should be completed by the decedent’s Executor (if the person had a Will) or Administrator (if the person did not have a Will).
Also, the No Fault carrier offers a $5,000 benefit to cover funeral expenses. A bill marked “paid” should be forwarded to the No Fault carrier.
With respect to the policy of the tortfeasor (i.e., the party who was negligent), the state minimum policy is currently $50,000. Your attorney must inquire with the tortfeasor’s insurance company and investigate as to whether there is more than a minimum policy (e.g., $100,000, $300,000, $500,000, etc).
If it is established that the wrongdoer had no coverage and the decedent was uninsured, the lawyer for the decedent should consider filing a Notice of Intention to Make a Claim against the New York State Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. This is a guarantee under the law that all persons will be covered in New York State.
Your attorney needs to apply for “Letters Testamentary” at the Surrogates Court. Each county in New York has a Surrogates Court which has jurisdiction over estate matters (i.e., matters involving deceased individuals). A person will be designated by the Surrogate to represent the survivors of the decedent in a lawsuit.
If the case is not settled, the Executor or Administrator (through an experienced Personal Injury lawyer) may start a lawsuit. The pain and suffering of the decedent immediately prior to his death and the subsequent death are the focus of the lawsuit. The economic loss to the decedent’s survivors is also an issue in the lawsuit.
The case is treated like any other case involving personal injury and the legal procedure is followed accordingly (e.g., depositions, requests for documents such as tax returns, death certificate, etc).
If you have lost a loved one due to a motor vehicle accident, call our law firm – We are experienced in these matters and will represent you zealously in any case involving personal injury or death.