Our Virginia wrongful death client was a 25-year-old man who suffered fatal burns after a flatbed truck rear-ended the car in which he was riding. The deadly crash happened on I-64 in Norfolk, VA.
Due to a flat tire, the deceased victim’s car was moving at about 25 mph in the center lane of the interstate. It did not have it hazard lights engaged. A witness later told investigators that he almost struck the vehicle himself but was able to change lanes in time.
The rear-end collision between the car and the truck ignited a fire. Out client could not free himself from his seat belt before flames and smoke overtook him.
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Key Legal Strategy
The deceased man’s family hired our Virginia Beach-based truck accident law firm to seek compensation for his 5-year-old daughter. We filed wrongful death claims against the flatbed driver and the company that employed him.
Our independent investigation, as well as interviews with both surviving drivers and people who witnessed the deadly crash, revealed that the flatbed operator violated several of the safety rules spelled out in the Virginia commercial driver’s manual. We also discovered that the truck driver made inaccurate statements to police officers who responded to the scene of the accident.
During a deposition taken under oath, the truck driver admitted that he did not see our client’s car until a few seconds before crashing into it. We put forward a theory that poor health may have left the truck driver unable to spot and quickly respond to emergency situations. Specifically, the man suffered from diabetes and was not following doctor’s orders regarding diet, exercise and medication use.
The defense team disputed our poor health contention but did eventually concede that we would likely win if the case went before a civil trial jury. They opted for mediation in lieu of a trial, and that alternative dispute resolution process resulted in our client’s estate receiving $3.5 million plus legal costs.
The majority of the settlement will be paid to our client’s daughter in installments until she turns 22. The girl’s mother, who had never married or lived with our client, will administer the funds until the daughter turns 18.
Our Virginia truck accident and wrongful death attorneys justified the structured settlement amount by presenting proof that their client was involved in his daughter’s life and had never missed a child support payment. The money largely represents what the girl’s father would have contributed to her upbringing plus the cost of health insurance for the child.
Court and Date: Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk, VA, Nov. 16, 2010
Staff: Randall E. Appleton and another staff attorney