When a passenger is killed in an auto accident, that person's estate is entitled to collect damages from any of the drivers who negligently contributed to causing the accident. This would normally be done through the passenger’s estate. If the passenger was in the car that caused the fatal accident, his or her estate may still recover from the driver. New York, like most states, has a form of comparative negligence that governs recoveries in negligence cases.
Thus, for example, if the driver of the car carrying the passenger who died was 50 percent responsible for causing the accident, that driver would be responsible for half of the decedent’s damages. If the other driver was also partially at fault, then that driver could be liable for his or her respective percentage of fault. However, the rules for comparative fault, and for the collection of damages from separate parties, are complicated and must be carefully evaluated prior to making conclusions.
Recently, a two-car accident at a Brooklyn intersection claimed two dead and two injured. An SUV that had a left turn light was making a left turn from Flatbush Ave. onto Avenue U. According to police and witness accounts, a Nissan Maxima driven by a 20-year-old man sped into the intersection, passed a red light, and -- traveling at an estimated speed of 100 mph -- barreled into the SUV. The Nissan driver and his passenger were killed.
Two passengers in the SUV were taken to hospitals with what were described as “minor” injuries. These initial descriptions can be inaccurate and should not generally be taken as authoritative. In many instances, symptoms may not manifest for several hours or even days after the accident. A viable claim for a serious and permanent injury may befall one who is initially said to have sustained “minor” injuries by the reporting agencies.
By all accounts, it appears that the driver of the Nissan was solely at fault in causing this fatal accident under New York law. The deceased passenger's family could potentially collect wrongful death damages from the Nissan driver's estate to help cover medical, funeral and other related expenses. The injured passengers could possibly also make claims against the driver's estate for injuries, if any, suffered in this tragic accident.
Source: New York Daily News, "Two dead after two vehicles collide at busy intersection in Marine Park, Brooklyn: NYPD", Thomas Tracy, May 19, 2014