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Shapiro & Appleton

Richmond VA Historian Killed in Rear End Crash

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A former US State Department negotiator and Richmond, VA historian was killed last week in a rear end crash.

Police stated that Elizabeth Brown Pryor, 64, died when she was rear ended at high speed by another driver on a road in Richmond. That driver has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Police stated that his car was traveling at 80 mph when it rear ended Pryor’s car.

Pryor in her career worked at the State Department and was involved in foreign policy negotiations with several countries. She was fluent in German, French and Spanish. After she retired to Richmond, she wrote several books on American history, including highly regarded ones on Robert E. Lee and Clara Barton.

The accused driver reportedly suffers from a mental health condition that he has struggled with for 10 years, according to his family.

We send our condolences to the entire Pryor family. This tragic accident is unusual in that it appears to have been caused possibly by a mental health condition, rather than drugs or alcohol. Regardless of the reason for the accident, the family members still can file a wrongful death suit against the driver.

To succeed in a wrongful death claim in Virginia, the prosecution must prove that the death was caused by the defendant. Also it must be shown that the death came about due to negligence or the strict liability of the defendant for the death. In this case, the driver may not have been ‘negligent’ if he is found to have been mentally deficient at the time of the accident, but it still is likely that he is strictly liable for Pryor’s death.

Also, VA law requires that the death must affect surviving family, who would be beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim. Last, the death must have led to monetary damages.

Based upon those criteria, it would appear that the Pryor family would have a strong wrongful death claim.

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