The death of an 84-year-old woman last week in Central Islip on Long Island appears to have been caused by a wrong move by an oncoming driver who was later charged with DWI.
The accident happened in broad daylight on Carlton Avenue at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. The woman, Joy Rogalle, was on her way to church when her car was hit by a vehicle which had swerved into the southbound lane of the road in front of Mrs. Rogalle’s car. The collision resulted in the woman’s death, while the other driver was only injured.
A police statement after the fatal accident reported that the driver of the vehicle that appeared to have swerved into the wrong lane was 29-year-old Charles Koukalenios. He has so far only been charged with DWI, although more serious charges may be made after an investigation into the accident has been completed.
The death has robbed Mrs. Rogalle’s family of a mother and grandmother at a point in her life when she had just recovered from a cancer scare. She was reported by her daughter to have been a “happy and independent woman” who would have celebrated her 59th wedding anniversary this summer if she had remained alive.
While it is likely that the person at fault in this accident will be charged and dealt with by the court, this leaves 13 grandchildren and 10 children of the deceased with a sense of grievance against the driver.
In many situations like this, the family of the person who has been killed as a result of proven negligence may have the opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person at fault. Wrongful death lawsuits are not designed to enable family members to profit financially from a death. In fact, in New York, as in other states in the country, they are only a relatively recent legal phenomenon.
They are intended primarily in the case of family members who have been deprived of a breadwinner or other financial source of income as a result of a person’s needless death. They also allow for compensation for the expenses involved in the hospitalization and burial of the deceased, as well as an amount for the “pain and suffering” of the deceased before death if there is an interval involved between the accident and death.
More than anything, wrongful death lawsuits, when successful, help provide a sense of closure for family members who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others, as well as serving as a warning to the community at large about behavior which should be avoided. In this particular accident, it may be unlikely that a wrongful death action will be initiated because of the age of the grandmother and the fact that she died almost instantaneously at the scene of the crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and it was due to someone else’s fault, then you should consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to see if you can claim a just amount of compensation from the person at fault.
Richard S. Jaffe Esq. is a New York and Long Island based personal injury attorney with extensive experience in wrongful death claims. 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.
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