The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Victim's Family Settles With Driver in Fatal Car Accident at Wendy's

What damages can you seek and whom can you hold liable in wrongful death lawsuit?

When an elderly driver drove her car into a Wendy's restaurant in Bayonne, New Jersey, killing a man inside, she was cited only for careless driving, a less severe charge than reckless driving. She received the maximum penalty, a $200 fine. The family of the victim filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her and has now settled for a much larger sum, $1.2 million.

It is not uncommon for civil case to follow a criminal case. A conviction for careless driving is evidence that negligence caused the accident, making it easier to bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a defendant. 

Family Sues for Victim's Suffering and Their Financial Losses

New Jersey law generally allows families to sue for wrongful death if the victim could have brought a personal injury lawsuit had he lived. While the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act does not allow surviving family members to sue for their own emotional distress, in a so-called "survival action," they may be able to obtain damages for the emotional distress suffered by the deceased. 

In this case the victim lived for two weeks after the accident, finally succumbing to his injuries. According to court papers, he experienced pain, anguish, and physical and emotional suffering before he died. Prior to the accident, he was in excellent physical and mental health, according to family members.

The victim's family also sued for financial losses they themselves suffered as a result of the wrongful death. In court papers, they noted that they had to expend funds on his care before he died and incurred other monetary losses. 

Plaintiff Named Driver's Husband as Co-Defendant

The elderly driver of the car was not the only defendant in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs also blamed her husband for allowing her to drive the car. In their lawsuit, the family accused him of "negligently, carelessly and/or recklessly" allowing her to use the motor vehicle.

If you or a family member has been harmed by the carelessness or recklessness of another, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. As this case shows, the person directly involved in the accident may not be the only party liable. Others who enabled the defendant or contributed indirectly to an accident may also be named as defendants. An expert in personal injury and negligence lawsuits can advise you on the best strategy to pursue and help you win at trial or receive an appropriate settlement.

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