The number of car accident fatalities is thankfully low compared to the number of people injured in motor vehicle collisions every year. However, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data reveals a disturbing trend. In 2017, 843 people were killed in car accidents on Virginia roadways. Your entire family experiences loss when a loved one dies in such a tragedy, but you may have rights after such a situation. Virginia law allows certain individuals to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim, and a Roanoke fatal car accident lawyer can help you navigate the process.
At Lugar Law PC, we realize that a lawsuit cannot fill the void left behind by your loved one?s death. Still, you may gain comfort knowing that we can help alleviate some of the financial stress by fighting for you to receive the compensation you deserve. Our Roanoke car accident lawyers can explain how wrongful death claims work in Virginia, so contact us today at (540) 384-0348 to learn more through a free case consultation.
Common Causes of Fatal Crashes
Virginia DMV statistics help reveal the frequency of deadly motor vehicle collisions, but they also offer some insight on how these incidents occur. For example:
- Drunk driving was a factor in 233 fatal crashes in 2017
- In Roanoke County, there were two deaths linked to alcohol use and speed was a factor in five fatal crashes;
- General carelessness was a primary factor, as ?other? driver actions caused 55.6 percent of all fatal collisions
- Additional causes of these accidents include straying outside traffic lanes, following too closely, and running traffic signals
- Holidays are extremely deadly, with Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July topping the list
There are also some common trends when it comes to fatal car accident injuries. Whether the victim passes at the scene or sometime after the initial impact, the trauma most likely to cause death could include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), skull fractures, and penetrating brain wounds
- Spinal cord and neck trauma
- Injuries to the abdomen, lungs, and other internal organs
- Excessive bleeding
- Burn injuries
- Many other types of fatal injuries in car crashes.
How Fatal Auto Collisions Claims Work
When a loved one dies in a motor vehicle crash, your right to compensation in a wrongful death case is based upon the legal concept of negligence. Many of the same personal injury law theories apply. The primary difference is that the victim passed away instead of merely being injured. A Roanoke fatal car accident lawyer can describe in more detail, as wrongful death cases can be quite complex. Generally, you must prove the essential elements of a negligence claim, which include:
- Duty – The responsible motorist had a legal obligation to drive safely, so as to not cause a risk of harm to others sharing the road
- Breach – The other driver failed to comply with this duty
- Causation – There is a direct link between the motorist?s breach of duty and the fatal car accident
- Damages – You and your family suffered losses because of your loved one?s death.
Special Considerations in a Wrongful Death Claim
While the key elements of personal injury cases apply to a deadly auto crash, some factors are unique to wrongful death claims. You can trust your fatal car accident attorney to handle the legal aspects of your case, but it?s important to be aware of these issues. For example:
- The victim?s personal representative has the standing to pursue a wrongful death case.
- In a wrongful death case, Virginia statutory law defines the individuals who are entitled to receive monetary damages.
- Virginia?s statute of limitations applies to wrongful death claims, so the personal representative must file a lawsuit in court within two years after the victim passes away.
Compensation After a Fatal Car Crash
A wrongful death claim focuses on the losses that surviving family members suffer as the result of their loved one?s passing. Your damages may be economic, so you can recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses, and medical bills incurred to treat the decedent before death. Your fatal car accident lawyer can also help you seek non-economic damages in a wrongful death case, including those related to you and your family?s:
- Grief and emotional suffering
- Loss of society, comfort, consortium, and education
- Loss of the victim?s financial contribution
Consult a Roanoke Fatal Car Accident Lawyer Today
Though your grief is overwhelming, you may gain solace knowing that you have rights after a fatal auto crash claims the life of a loved one. At Lugar Law PC, our fatal car accident attorneys will protect your interests in a wrongful death claim, and hold the negligent driver accountable for your loss. To schedule a consultation of your case with a skilled Roanoke personal injury lawyer, contact us today at (540) 384-0348.