One person was killed during a collision involving a tractor-trailer in Chesapeake on Monday, May 8th. Police reports show that the two-vehicle crash took place at about 5:40 a.m. in the area of Highway 17 and South George Washington Highway when a southbound truck slammed into a passenger vehicle.
What legal recourse do I have after losing a family member in a traffic collision?
The driver, who has since been identified as 63-year-old Keith Dutton, died at the scene.
The driver of the truck was unharmed during the impact.
No additional details have been made known at this time. The investigation remains ongoing.
If you lost someone you love due to the recklessness, dereliction, or negligence of another person, the Virginia wrongful death lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you pursue full and fair financial compensation for your damages. No family should be made to endure financial difficulties because of someone else’s carelessness. Call us today to schedule your free case review.
Does a Fatal Truck Crash Qualify as Wrongful Death?
The definition of wrongful death as laid out in Virginia Code § 8.01-50 states that wrongful death is any death that is the result of the neglect, default, or unlawful act of a business or person. According to state law, if the circumstances of the death would have merited a personal injury action had the victim lived, then a wrongful death claim is most likely an appropriate response.
In other words, personal injury claims and wrongful death suits have a lot in common. The primary difference is that, in a wrongful death suit, legal action is being pursued on the victim’s behalf rather than by the victim themselves. Wrongful death lawsuits are usually filed after fatal truck accidents, car accidents, instances of medical malpractice, and other cases where someone died due to someone else’s negligence.
Who is Entitled to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the state of Virginia, a wrongful death suit isn’t brought in the deceased’s name. Rather, the suit is filed by the personal representative of the victim’s estate at the behest of any statutory beneficiaries who are entitled to recover damages. These beneficiaries may include:
- The surviving husband, wife, children, or grandchildren of the victim
- The victim’s surviving mother, father, or siblings
- Any family member that was a dependent of the victim
- Any other surviving relative who is eligible to inherit according to state law
In Virginia, a wrongful death suit must be filed no more than two years after the victim’s passing. If this deadline, known as the statute of limitations, expires before the suit is filed, it will be thrown out and the beneficiaries will lose their right to compensation.
What Damages Are Available After a Fatal Truck Crash?
Virginia courts can award any damages they deem just and fair. While every case is different, these damages commonly include compensation for:
- Pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Lost earnings and other assistance provided by the victim
- Funeral, and cremation or burial costs
- Medical treatments and other medical bills amassed by the victim prior to their death
- In some cases, punitive damages may be available. Unlike those listed above, punitive damages are not compensatory but instead designed to punish the defendant for behavior that is especially egregious.
Any financial compensation that is awarded in the lawsuit will be distributed among all statutory beneficiaries based on a hierarchy. The order of distribution is complex, but generally speaking, any damages that are recovered will go to the victim’s surviving spouse and children first. If the victim had no surviving spouse or child, then the parents, siblings, and any dependent relatives will benefit. In the event that the victim was childless, but has surviving parents or a surviving spouse, the damages will be dispersed between them.
Meet With Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lost a family member in an accident that qualifies as wrongful death, such as a truck crash, let a respected Virginia personal injury lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp assess your potential claim. Call our Norfolk-area law offices at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free consultation today.