Richmond Fatal Accident Lawyers
Caring representation for families after a relative dies in a fatal accident in Virginia
The number of fatal traffic accidents has spiked in the last few years, both here in Virginia and across the country. Even with seatbelts and airbags, if a fast-moving car or a heavy truck slams into your vehicle, there’s a possibility someone inside the car may die.
Our lawyers respect your need to mourn. We appreciate that no amount of money will ever bring your loved one back. At Phelan Petty, our Richmond-based fatal accident lawyers are here to help you through this very difficult time. We have found that it does help families obtain some measure of justice and peace to hold the people and companies that caused the death of your loved one accountable for their negligence. If you lost a loved one in a fatal traffic crash, we want to help you; call or contact us to learn more about how we can.
How can we help?
- How often do fatal vehicle accidents happen?
- Who is responsible for a fatal vehicle accident in Richmond?
- What are the leading causes of fatal accidents in Richmond?
- How do you prove liability in fatal accident cases?
- Who can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident in Richmond?
- What benefits can fatal vehicle accident claimants receive in Richmond?
- Do you have a fatal accident lawyer near me?
How often do fatal vehicle accidents happen?
According to the National Safety Council, it is estimated that 46,000 people died on US roads in 2022. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 996 people died on Virginia roads that year. Though early estimates by the NHTSA show a slight decrease in traffic fatalities between 2021 and 2022 (about 0.3%), the numbers are still unconscionably high.
In particular, the number of truck accidents has risen significantly, especially in Virginia. Trucks cause more fatal accidents than other vehicles due to their size, their dimensions, weight of the trucks, blind spots, shifting cargo, and control difficulties.
Who is responsible for a fatal vehicle accident in Richmond?
In virtually every case, the negligent driver can be held liable for your losses. However, fatal accidents can have more than one liable party. This means that in addition to the driver, we may also name the following parties in a lawsuit:
- An employer, such as a trucking company that hires a truck driver who caused the fatal accident
- The owners of the vehicle
- A manufacturer of a defective car, truck, or motorcycle part that caused the fatal crash
- A state entity or agency such as the Virginia Department of Transportation
- Other third-parties who may have contributed in some way to your loved one’s death
Unlike most states, Virginia does not hold alcohol vendors liable if they sold alcohol to a minor or to someone who was visibly intoxicated and caused a fatal accident.
What are the leading causes of fatal accidents in Richmond?
Our Richmond fatal accident lawyers work with investigators, the police, and traffic reconstruction experts if necessary to help show what the defendant(s) should have done to prevent the accident that took the life of your loved one. Some of the common causes of deadly vehicle accidents include:
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving such as texting while driving, using a smartphone, or eating a sandwich while driving
- Speeding, driving through red lights, and other traffic violations
- Driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions
- Defective car, truck, and motorcycle parts including defective brakes, electrical systems, fuel lines, seatbelts, and airbags
How do you prove liability in fatal accident cases?
Proving liability in fatal vehicle accident cases is different than proving liability in non-fatal accident cases because your loved one is not able to testify on his/her behalf. Our Richmond fatal accident lawyers work with the police, our investigators, eyewitnesses, and traffic reconstruction experts if necessary to help show how the accident occurred. We also formally question the driver who caused the accident and any other defendants who may have some responsibility.
In some fatal vehicle accident cases, there may be criminal charges against the driver. For example, if the driver who took the life of your loved one was drunk when the crash accident, the police may file driving under the influence charges. We coordinate your case with the criminal case. Many times, the criminal conviction or the evidence obtained during the trial can be used to help settle your claim or persuade a jury that the driver was responsible for your loved one’s death.
Who can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident in Richmond?
Virginia’s wrongful death law authorizes the personal representative of the estate of the decedent to file a wrongful death action. Under Virginia law, the following may be beneficiaries of any compensatory damages:
- The surviving spouse, children of the deceased and children of any deceased child of the deceased, and, only if there is a surviving spouse, children of the deceased, or children of any deceased child of the deceased, the parents of the decedent if any of such parents, within 12 months prior to the decedent's death, regularly received support or regularly received services from the decedent for necessaries, including living expenses, food, shelter, health care expenses, or in-home assistance or care, or
- If there is no surviving spouse, children of the deceased, or children of any deceased child of the deceased, then to the parents, brothers and sisters of the deceased, and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or
- If the decedent has left both surviving spouse and parent or parents, but no child or grandchild, the award shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and such parent or parents or
- If there are survivors under clause (i) or clause (iii), the award shall be distributed to those beneficiaries and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or
If no survivors exist under clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv), the award shall be distributed in the course of descents as provided for in § 64.2-200.
What benefits can fatal vehicle accident claimants receive in Richmond?
Virginia’s wrongful death law provides that the damages that the beneficiaries are entitled to include:
- Reasonable funeral expenses
- Any medical expenses for the care of the decedent related to the injuries that resulted in your loved one’s death
- The value of the reasonably expected income loss of the decedent
- The value of the services, protection, care, and assistance the decedent would have provided
- “Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent”
In some Richmond fatal vehicle accident cases, the defendants may be ordered to pay punitive damages for “willful or wanton conduct or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.”
Do you have a fatal accident lawyer near me?
Phelan Petty’s law office is located at 3315 West Broad Street in Richmond. We can schedule a phone or video consultation upon request.
Speak with a compassionate Richmond fatal accident attorney now
We understand how devastating fatal vehicle accidents are. In an instant, parents, spouses, and children will have to live the rest of their lives without their loved one. With the utmost care and compassion, we help families hold the wrongdoers accountable and obtain the compensation they need to protect their families and their futures. The wrongful death lawyers at Phelan Petty have helped many families obtain strong settlements and verdicts – some for millions of dollars. To discuss your rights with one of our attorneys in Richmond, call us now or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We represent families across Virginia.