car accident attorney framingham maA limousine crash in New York over the weekend was considered the deadliest motor vehicle accident in the United States in almost a decade. The Boston Globe reported 20 fatalities in the horrific crash, which included all 18 passengers inside the limo and two bystanders.

Tragic accidents like this one devastate families. There is nothing worse than losing a loved one. The loss causes severe emotional distress and, possibly, a significant financial hardship. The families may have a claim for compensation through a wrongful death case. While compensation will never take the place of a loved one, it can help ease the financial burden which may arise after the loss of a loved one. 

How the Crash Happened

It was reported that 17 passengers, including sisters and their friends, were on their way to celebrate one of the sister’s 30th birthday. The limo was a 2001 Ford Excursion, but reports indicated that the limo was in “terrible condition”. Allegedly, the limo driver drove right through a stop sign and crashed into a parked SUV outside a store. The crash caused the death of all 17 passengers inside the limo, the limo driver and two bystanders. The police and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this tragic accident.

Responsibility for Similar Type Crashes

In motor vehicle crashes caused by someone who was working for someone else at the time of the accident, the employer may be responsible for the damages suffered by the accident victims. This is known as the doctrine of Respondeat Superior, which is a rule of law that the employer of a negligent person may also be responsible for the negligent person’s actions. 

The Latin phrase respondeat superior means “let the master answer.” It is a type of vicarious liability, which allows a third party to be held liable for a defendant’s negligence in some cases, even if the third party wasn’t there when the injury occurred and did not cause the injury or make it worse. This concept arises mostly in tort cases, such as personal injury claims. For example, a commercial business may be held vicariously responsible under this rule of law for their employee-driver’s negligent operation of a commercial vehicle that caused an accident and injuries to others.

In order to hold an employer liable for an employee’s negligent actions, the injured party must prove the injuries occurred while the defendant was actually working for the employer; the injury was caused by something the defendant would ordinarily do while working for the employer; and the employer benefited in some way from whatever the defendant was doing that caused the injury.

Wrongful Death Claims

In a tragic crash like the one reported above, the surviving family may have wrongful death claims.  A wrongful death case is a type of personal injury case where an accident caused by someone’s negligence or recklessness results in the loss of life. 

In Massachusetts there is a specific statute that governs wrongful death claims and cases.  Chapter 229 § 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides, in part: “A person who (1) by his negligence causes the death of a person…shall be liable in damages in the amount of: (1) the fair monetary value of the decedent to the persons entitled to receive the damages recovered, as provided in section one, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected net income, services, protection, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice of the decedent to the persons entitled to the damages recovered; (2) the reasonable funeral and burial expenses of the decedent…” 

There are several types of damages a family can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit.  For example, if a spouse died in a car accident, you can pursue an award of damages for the lost income and financial support the spouse would have provided had he or she remained alive. In addition to economic damages, you can pursue damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship or affection for the spouse and children of the deceased person, and loss of consortium (sexual relationship) for the spouse.

Speak with an Experienced Massachusetts Accident Attorney

We all hope that these types of accidents and losses never happen to us or our loved ones. These are very sad situations with tragic losses and serious collateral consequences. While compensation will never fill the void left by the death of a loved one, it will at least help the family from the financial dilemma and burden that may arise.

Wrongful death and injury claims from motor vehicle accidents can present complex legal issues, especially with fatal crashes and commercial vehicles. So, if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts.

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 40 years of combined experience representing individuals, who have been seriously injured in auto accidents. Feel free to contact us online or call us at (508) 879-3500 to discuss your accident and injuries. We will explain what your legal rights are, answer your questions and show you how we can help secure the financial compensation you deserve. 

Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.
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