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Shapiro & Appleton

Car Insurance Claims: What to Do When the At-Fault Driver Is a Parent or Friend

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What can a parent or family member do when the individual responsible for causing a traffic accident that claimed the life of a loved one is a spouse or close friend? Answers cannot come easily, and shock, grief and struggles to find forgiveness can take their toll on personal relationships for years.

Legal issues can be somewhat simpler to resolve, though seeking the counsel and guidance of local attorneys who have experience dealing with insurance companies in Virginia and North Carolina can make the process of securing compensation for legitimate personal injury and wrongful death claims less stressful and time-consuming. Three separate single-vehicle crashes in Southeastern Virginia that each resulted in deaths and injuries during the early morning hours of December 6 and 7, 2014, illustrate how.

 

 

  • A collision between a car and a tree in the 2600 block Elmhurst Lane in Portsmouth at 3:30 am, Dec. 6, left the driver hospitalized with significant injuries and the female passenger in the vehicle dead. No immediate explanation for the crash was available.
  • In Norfolk, at 2 am on the 7th, an SUV struck a light pole and tree near the intersection of Sewells Point Road and Chesapeake Boulevard. The wreck caused the deaths of a man and a woman, and left a second woman critically injured.
  • Last, and perhaps most tragically, at around 2:30 am on the 7th, a mother driving near the intersection of Rotunda Avenue and Crystal Lake Drive swerved to avoid hitting a deer standing in the road, ran off the pavement and collided with a tree. She sustained serious injuries, while her 13-year-old son died at the scene. Police confirmed her description of how the deadly accident occurred, ruling out both speeding and drunk or drugged driving as causes. 

Both in Virginia and North Carolina, it is legal to make an insurance claim against a family member, or even a spouse.  Centuries ago, there was interspousal or intrafamily immunity from such claims. With the advent of car insurance, those immunities broke down. After all, the only way to repay medical bills in some situations is to make a car insurance claim, even if the negligent conduct was by a family member

Even in the case where law enforcement officials have ruled the crash accidental and likely unavoidable, however, representatives of the insurance companies involved are likely to delay settling claims while conducting lengthy "independent" private investigations. The wrecks in which legitimate questions regarding cause and liability exist give insurers and their legal representative even greater opportunities to drag out and block attempts by victims and their survivors to secure compensation.

Having plaintiff's lawyers on their side as they take on insurance companies can ensure victims' rights and interests get protected, their requests receive the responses deserved and their compensation represents a small measure of justice. Beyond that, engaging a lawyer to handle technical issues frees victims to heal physically, emotionally and financially.

Our condolences go out the families who lost loved one in these recent Hampton Roads wrecks. 

EJL

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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