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Does the Death of the At-Fault Driver Block Insurance Claims?

A head-on collision in southwestern Virginia left one woman dead and a man hospitalized with serious injuries. The deadly crash happened near the intersection of Route 220 and Route 693 in Franklin County, VA, at around 3:45 pm on May 15, 2018. 

 

 

According to Virginia State Police, the wreck started when a woman driving a car ran off the right side of the highway, overcorrected her steering, and wound up crossing the center line after getting back on the road. She died from injuries suffered in the collision.

The instinct to steer hard to the left when going onto the right-hand shoulder is understandable. Acting on that impulse, however, creates deadly situations and often leaves innocent people injured. To prevent overcorrection crashes, the Kansas Driving Handbook advises drivers to “drive entirely onto the shoulder and stop. Wait for a large gap in traffic before you reenter. If you cannot get back onto the pavement, pull as far from the road as possible and wait for help.”

News reports do not include details on the types of injuries suffered by the man behind the wheel of the pickup. The reports do mention, however, that he was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.

First, the surviving crash victim should understand that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will remain in effect until all claims are settled or otherwise resolved. The woman’s tragic death does not immediately cancel her car insurance coverage.

Should the man file insurance claims for the payment of his medical bills and compensation for other crash-related expenses, the insurance company for the deceased driver is likely to argue that its former client has no liability because of the man did not buckle up. An experienced Virginia personal lawyer will not allow the company the to deny claims for that reason.

The state law that requires all adults in the front seat of a vehicle to use seat belts, section 46.2-1094 of the Virginia Code, includes the following paragraph, with emphasis added:

 

A violation of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this section change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

 

The cause of the man’s injuries on Route 220 in Franklin County was the car driver’s overcorrection after running off the side of the road. The man’s recovery should not be limited in any way because was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

EJL

Seth Scott
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Norfolk, Chesapeake & Va Beach Injury Attorney
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