Virginia attained a sobering milestone in terms of traffic-related fatalities in 2021, according to recently released DMV data. Crash deaths reached a 14-year high in 2021, with as many as 968 people killed in various traffic accidents during the year. Until March 2022, the data suggests an estimated 245 people have been killed. This represents a 12% increase since last year at the same point of time.
Fatalities increased among drivers aged 15 – 19 and drivers above the age of 65 among other categories. These categories were found to be most at-risk as per the DMV’s Highway Safety Office:
- Commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities
- Speed-related fatalities
- Fatalities of pedestrians, motorcyclists, teen drivers, bicyclists, and mature drivers
Linda Ford, acting DMV Commissioner, asked drivers to prevent collisions by taking proactive actions. Ford asked motorists to “slow down, buckle up, and focus on the task of driving.” She also asked roadway users to never drive impaired and to make the highways safer by doing their part to prevent the loss of lives to senseless crashes.
Reports suggests that this trend is not limited to Virginia but can be seen all across the country. There is a higher rate of crash deaths on a national level being tackled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration than ever before.
Right to Compensation After a Fatal Crash
No one every expects to lose a family member to a serious car accident. In fact, no one is ever prepared to hear that their loved one was killed in an automobile collision. Most families are left in shock and are unable to process the reality, especially when they find out the death occurred due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions.
Nothing can replace the companionship and love of your loved one. However, the law has provided families with the opportunity to seek financial compensation for their losses and to move forward with their lives. This compensation can cover the following as per the Virginia Code section 8.01-52:
- Sorrows and mental anxiety
- Guidance, care, companionship, comfort, advice and other benefits the decedent may have provided to the claimant(s)
- Wages and other benefits the deceased may have earned had they not met their untimely demise
- Medical expenses directly related to the injuries suffered during the car crash that ultimately caused their demise
- Punitive damages (in extremely reckless cases)
The value of compensation depends on the manner in which the accident occurred. The fact that the available evidence will be weighed heavily makes it important to carefully consider your decision of selecting the right car accident attorney.
There are certain expenses that can be easy to place a value on. However, other damages, such as the loss of consortium or future earnings may require the experience of a qualified Virginia wrongful death attorney for projecting the future. The right attorney will have experts on their panel to calculate accurate losses.
Financial compensation becomes more important for families that don’t have the luxury of an insurance company paying for unexpected losses. It is easy for a family to get crushed under the burden of the loss of income, medical expenses and funeral expenses – all the while reeling from the loss of a loved one.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim for Damages
Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of unintentional deaths on a national level. As per the separate data released by the Department of Motor Vehicles and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is an increase in these traffic-related fatalities in both Virginia and the country.
Familial survivors have the legal recourse to seek civil reparations against responsible parties in auto accidents involving negligence. It can be devastating losing a loved one to a fatal car accident. There are specific Virginia laws governing the relatives that can be considered beneficiaries and be eligible to bring a wrongful death action.
The following order is listed in the VA code section 8.01-53 as “statutory beneficiaries”:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent along with their children and grandchildren
- The siblings and parents of the deceased or any other family member that shared the decedent’s household and can be considered a dependent
- Other surviving relatives as entitled by the Virginia law for inheriting money or assets from the deceased
The laws surrounding wrongful death can be confusing. You should consider consulting with an experienced car accident attorney if in doubt about whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit or not.
Consult with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Virginia Today
You deserve compensation as per law, if you lost a loved one to a car accident that was the result of another driver’s or entity’s negligence. The skilled wrongful death attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you file the claim after calculating the appropriate damages and pursue your case vigorously to achieve the best possible outcome. We can provide the legal assistance and all the answers you need. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (833) 997-1774 or fill out this online contact form.