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Shapiro & Appleton

What Happens When a Passenger Dies in a Single-Car Crash?

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Shortly before dawn October 19, 2014, a Cadillac ran off the Richmond Beltway, slammed into a post for a highway sign and burst into flames. Both the driver and his passenger lost their lives from either injuries suffered during the collision or from smoke inhalation and burns created by the resultant fire. No other vehicles were involved in the fatal accident near the Pole Green Road exit from I-295, and police did not have an immediate explanation for what caused the single-vehicle wreck.

 

 

Without another driver to hold liable for the deadly crash, survivors of the two deceased men may naturally have questions about whether they can file insurance claims to receive compensation for unexpected, and possibly large, costs such as paying for funerals and replacing lost wages used to support dependents such as nonworking spouses and children. Answering each of those questions will not be possible until findings from the completed police become available and unless an in-depth consultation with those who wish to file claims takes place.

For instance, if an unsafe road condition or a mechanical failure led the driver to lose control of the car, a member of his immediate family might be able to pursue a civil case against the state or the automobile manufacturer. Such a case can take years to reach a conclusion, but legal mechanisms do exist for holding governmental organizations and private corporations accountable for failing to correct situations and equipment that can produce injuries.

For the passenger's family, an easier path toward receiving compensation may lie in filing a claim against the driver's automobile insurance policy, especially if the person riding in the car did nothing to cause the crash. Doing this can be difficult if the men were friends or relatives. The survivors would need to keep in mind, however, that the request for monetary payments was being made to the insurance company rather than the driver's family.

The short answer to each question resulting from an accident like the one that occurred on the interstate through the town of Mechanicsville, VA, is that there are no easy answers. Each case presents different scenarios that must be considered from multiple angles. The best course of action, when emotions permit, is for the victims' loved ones to contact an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney to schedule a free consultation.

EJL

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