Early estimate of traffic fatalities for the period January to September 2021 was recently released by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety. An estimated number of 31,720 fatalities occurred in motor vehicle traffic crashes. There is an approximate increase of 12% from the 28,325 fatalities that occurred in 2020. This is the highest percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

First Look at Traffic Fatality Projections During the Pandemic

The early estimate report provides a state-level estimate of traffic fatality during the pandemic as well. NHTSA projects that fatalities increased across 38 states and remained stagnant in two states. The number of deaths in motor traffic related accidents decreased in the District of Columbia and 10 other states in 2021 as compared to 2020.

Vehicle miles increased by 244 billion miles in the first nine months of 2021 as per the Federal Highway Administration. This is an 11.7% increase as compared to figures from 2020. The fatality rate increased to 1.36 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the first nine months of 2021. The projected rate of fatalities in the same period in 2020 was 1.35. The fatality rates saw a major decline in the second and third quarters of 2021 as compared to 2020.

Estimates Follow National Roadway Safety Strategy

The new estimates were provided a few days following the comprehensive release of the National Roadway Safety Strategy by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is a roadmap designed to address the national crisis of serious roadway injuries and fatalities.

Multiple layers of protection are going to be created involving safer vehicles, safer roads, safer speeds, safer people and better post-crash care. Unprecedented safety funding as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of President Biden complements the strategy. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that people are prone to making mistakes, but those mistakes don’t need to be lethal.

Buttigieg went on to add that safety measures in a well-designed system ensures that human fallibility doesn’t cause human fatalities. Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator added that a transformational and collaborative approach is required to change a culture that readily accepts the loss of thousands of people in vehicular crashes as inevitable.

Wrongful Death Claims in Virginia

Wrongful death claim is brought by the heirs of a decedent killed because of the negligent and illegal actions of someone else. These cases are brought in civil court similar to other types of personal injury matters. However, parties to the case can be different and the manner in which damages are calculated and collected are different as well.

Wrongful death claim under the Virginia Wrongful Death Statute is brought by the estate’s personal representative. This can be anyone appointed by the state or by the will. The spouse and children can collect in a wrongful death suit as per the statute. Under the law, adopted children and stepchildren can collect damages as well.

Further, other family members, including siblings, parents and other relatives can collect damages if they were financially dependent on the deceased. Typically, the parents and siblings collect wrongful death damages if the deceased does not have any spouse or children.

Parties eligible to inherit under Virginia estate law or covered by the deceased’s will can bring a claim if there are no survivors meeting the definitions mentioned under the statute.

Types of Recoverable Damages

Courts are allowed by the Virginia wrongful death laws to award family members fair and just compensation. There is no cap on wrongful death claims in Virginia, except for punitive damages. This is unless the death can be attributed to medical malpractice.

These are a few listed categories of recoverable damages under Virginia law:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of comfort, guidance and companionship
  • Loss of income that was relied on by the surviving family members
  • Domestic services, care and protection that would have been rendered by the victim
  • Funeral costs
  • Medical treatment
  • Hospital bills

Wrongful death claims can be incredibly complex in terms of determining damages and beneficiaries. You may want to consider getting expert opinion. You may run the risk of not collecting everything owed under Virginia law if you decide not to use a capable wrongful death attorney. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and the attorney hired by them. This will allow you and your family to piece together the fabric of your life.

Speak with an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Today

The statute of limitations in wrongful death claims is two years. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that they can get started on preparing a strong lawsuit. The seasoned wrongful death attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can begin an investigation right away so that witnesses don’t forget what happened or evidence doesn’t get lost. There is not a lot of time for you to file a claim. Schedule a consultation today by calling at 800-752-0042 or contact us online.