What should I do if I lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Losing a loved one in a motorcycle accident is a devastating and emotionally challenging experience. While nothing can truly compensate for the loss of life, the legal system provides avenues for seeking justice and financial recourse. If you find yourself facing this tragic situation, it’s essential to be aware of the legal options available to you:

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

One of the primary legal options available to you is filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims allow surviving family members to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. To pursue a wrongful death lawsuit successfully, you must establish that the accident resulted from the negligence or recklessness of another party, such as another driver, a road authority, or a manufacturer.

Survival Actions

If your loved one did not pass away immediately after the motorcycle accident but suffered injuries that ultimately led to their death, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf. The legal process would be similar to a wrongful death claim, seeking compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one experienced before their passing.

Product Liability Claim

If the motorcycle accident was caused or exacerbated by a defective motorcycle part or design, you may have grounds to file a product liability claim against the motorcycle manufacturer, distributor, or seller. Product liability claims are based on the theory that the product was unsafe, and the manufacturer should be held accountable for any resulting harm.

Elements Needed

To succeed in a negligence claim, you need to demonstrate that the responsible party owed a duty of care to your loved one, breached that duty and the breach directly caused the accident and subsequent death. This could apply to other motorists, government entities responsible for road maintenance, or even establishments that served alcohol to an intoxicated driver.

In the majority of cases, any compensation that is paid out in a motorcycle accident wrongful death lawsuit comes from insurance policies, including the victim’s insurance policy, their uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, or the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Insurance claims can provide compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and other related damages.

In the majority of cases, the at-fault party’s insurance company may approach you with a settlement offer. While it may be tempting to accept a quick settlement, it’s essential to consult with an attorney first. Insurance companies often try to settle for the lowest possible amount, which may not fully cover your losses.

Statute of Limitations

Keep in mind that there is a time limit within which you must file a legal claim, known as the statute of limitations. In Virginia, that timeframe is usually two years from the date of the victim’s death.

Navigating the legal options and complexities involved in a motorcycle accident wrongful death case can be overwhelming, especially while grieving. Engaging a skilled and compassionate Virginia wrongful death attorney with experience in wrongful death cases can provide you with the support, guidance, and advocacy needed to pursue justice on behalf of your lost loved one and secure the compensation you and your family deserve.