Thomas Stavola, 54, a Setauket cardiologist, allegedly walked away from the scene of a fatal crash that left a Middle Island woman dead. The victim was a dialysis technician and mother of three. It was reported that when Mr. Stavola was found a few blocks away, he talked with a slur while smelling of alcohol and had difficulty walking.
He admitted having a beer and then getting into his car. He appeared to have lost control of his auto as he left the road in Smithtown, and his Audi A4 struck the driver’s side door of Monica Peterman’s Mercedes-Benz at the intersection of East Main Street and Route 111. The accident victim was pronounced dead later in hospital.
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So far, Stavola has been charged with driving while intoxicated, but a chemical test has yet to confirm the amount of alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident. Meanwhile, Mr. Stavola’s attorney has entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf, stating that there is no evidence to confirm that Mr. Stavola was drunk at the time of the accident. An eyewitness claims to have seen him leave the car, and other witnesses say they can place him as the driver, according to a Newsday article.
The family of Ms. Peterman is in shock and is determined to see that justice is done.
In a case like this, where the victim lost her life through no fault of her own, her family may feel they have gained closure on this tragic event only by filing a wrongful death claim. Each U.S. state has its own laws governing wrongful death cases, including New York.
A wrongful death claim in this state is a lawsuit that is filed when the person who has lost his or her life cannot make the claim on his or her own behalf. Not any family member can file a wrongful death claim, as it must be one who has been appointed as “personal representative” of the person who has died.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative could seek compensation on behalf of the dead victim’s beneficiaries. If damages are eventually awarded, the payment can be held in trust for the close relatives of the deceased.
The sorts of things covered in a wrongful death claim include funeral expenses, health-care expenses accrued while the victim was being treated, loss of wages from the deceased from the injury to death, the value of services the deceased may have provided to his or her family including acting in a parental role for the surviving children, and loss of potential inheritance for the surviving children. Many of these will apply in the case of Ms. Peterman, as the mother of three children.
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Wrongful death claims are complicated procedures and must be filed under the New York statute of limitation, which is within 2 years of the death of the accident. It is essential to hire an experienced New York personal injury attorney such as Richard S. Jaffe Esq., who knows the laws and will ensure the right amount of compensation is claimed. Contact him for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll-free: 800-483-6149.