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How to pursue a wrongful death case for a motorcycle accident in Virginia?

If you have a loved one who died in a motorcycle crash, you may want to consider perusing a wrongful death case. Our civil justice system is based on the simple notion that everyone is expected to exercise reasonable care while driving. Reasonable care means obeying the rules of the road, i.e., stopping for stop signs and obeying speed limits. When a driver violates a traffic law, causes an accident that hurts or kills someone, they are legally responsible to compensate the person, and their family, for the harms caused by their negligence.

Who can initiate a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased?

In Virginia, compensation for wrongful death includes hospital and medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, the sorrow, mental anguish, and solace of the survivors, and loss of financial support for dependents. The family members entitled to financial compensation are determined by Virginia Code § 8.01-53. Generally, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased may be awarded damages. In addition, any grandchildren of the deceased, if the parent of that child is also deceased, are eligible to receive compensation. If there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, the parents, siblings, and any other relative who was dependent on the deceased person and lived in the same household may receive compensation. If there is a surviving spouse but no children, damages may be awarded to the spouse and to the parents of the deceased.

Steps in a wrongful death case

  1. Consult a Wrongful Death Attorney: Seek the expertise of an attorney experienced in wrongful death cases involving motorcycle accidents. It is always better to do this sooner rather than later as there may be deadlines on how long you have to file a claim. Missing an important deadline, like statutes of limitations, could jeopardize your chances of winning your case. In addition, the other party’s insurance company may be quick to call you and try to encourage you to settle for less than what your case is worth before you get a chance to obtain representation. If possible, avoid speaking to an insurance company or the other party until you have an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will offer you a free consultation, or first visit, to discuss your case and determine if it is worth pursuing.
  2. Gather Evidence:  If you were present at the scene of the accident or called to the scene, collecting evidence will likely be the last thing on your mind. Not all evidence collecting needs to happen the day of. Here are some other helpful ways to collect evidence after an accident. It can include photographing the crash site and surrounding traffic signs. Looking for surveillance cameras that may have captured the moment. Also collecting contact information from witnesses and preserving any documentation related to the accident, such as police reports, medical records, and any correspondence from the other party involved. If the accident involved a bus, delivery truck or any other commercial vehicle, the name of the company like DASH bus or Amazon Prime, would be useful to know as well.  If you already have a wrongful death attorney by this time, they should assist you in this or be able to take this over entirely. Any information you have is helpful to bring with you to the initial consultation. Negligence can be hard to prove and is not often determined in a police report alone. The other party involved may try to claim the victim played a part in the accident, and in the case of a fatal crash, the deceased party may never get to tell their side. And unfortunately, Virginia is a Contributory Negligence Rule state, meaning, if you’ve been in an accident and you’ve contributed to causing the accident, even 1%, you may not be able to recover anything.
  3. File a Wrongful Death Claim: Your attorney should discuss the possible outcome and demands of the case. If both you and the lawyer agree that the case is worth pursuing, the firm will file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties responsible for the accident. This may involve filing a claim with their insurance company or pursuing legal action directly. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, so your attorney will begin building a case with evidence to prove that the death was due to the negligence of another motorist. In addition, the firm will also gather documents to support the amount of damages, to include loss of household income, medical bills, funeral costs, and mental anguish. Once evidence is collected and costs are calculated, the attorney will write a demand letter to the insurance companies to attempt to resolve the matter.
  4. Negotiation and Settlement: Your attorney will engage in negotiations with the insurance company or opposing parties to seek a fair settlement. If a settlement is reached, it must be approved by the Court to ensure that it is fair to each of the survivors entitled to be compensated.
  5. Litigation (if necessary): If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, your attorney may advise pursuing litigation. This involves filing a lawsuit and presenting your case in court. If the case goes to trial, the jury determines the amount of damages to be awarded to each beneficiary.

Focus on healing

In conclusion, the pursuit of a wrongful death case following a tragic motorcycle accident in Virginia demands not only legal acumen but also compassion and understanding for the profound loss suffered by the victim’s family. Our civil justice system serves as a beacon of hope, aiming to hold negligent parties accountable for the devastation they inflict, while also offering a path toward financial compensation to alleviate the burden placed upon surviving family members. Our job, as personal injury attorneys, is to lift the unbearable weight off your shoulders. As one of our client’s put it, “Once Curcio law was in charge, we had every confidence that our worries were over. Without a doubt, my healing was faster than anticipated because healing was the only thing that required my focus.”

Curcio Law has experience handling wrongful death and severe injury cases involving motorcyclists. Call or text (703) 836-3366 or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.


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