Losing a spouse to a drunk or careless driver is an unimaginable tragedy and it may feel like justice when the driver is tried and convicted of vehicular manslaughter. However, along with your emotional recovery, you have to figure out how you will recover from the financial burden of medical expenses and lost income. The fight doesn’t end with a criminal conviction. You can keep fighting to ensure your family’s future.
Vehicular Manslaughter and Wrongful Death Liability
Every state has their own laws regarding vehicular manslaughter. Some states separate car accident fatalities into categories such as accidental death, involuntary, or voluntary vehicular manslaughter, and vehicular homicide. Virginia’s mandate considers vehicular accident deaths to be classified as a Class 5 felony of involuntary manslaughter, with enhanced penalties under certain circumstances.
In accordance with state law 18.2-36.1, a person may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if the victim dies within three years of the accident as a direct result of injuries sustained during the accident in which the accused was at fault.
This means that in Virginia, if a driver’s actions are proven to have caused a death as a result of any of the following factors, not only could he or she be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, but as a relative of the deceased, you can file a wrongful death claim for psychological and financial damages. Driver fault factors include:
- Driving while intoxicated or impaired. The driver was operating a vehicle while having a blood-alcohol level over 0.08 or while being on any narcotic or hallucinogenic drug.
- Driving in a reckless manner. Reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; including speeding, inappropriate passing, disregard for weather safety, etc.
- Driving with disregard for the safety of others. Dangerously cutting someone off, poor maintenance (not replacing your broken taillights so others will be unable to see if you’re braking), swerving into different lanes, running red lights, etc., are all examples of reckless disregard.
- Distracted driving. Using a phone while driving or driving while tired are forms of distracted driving that could lead to a fault conviction.
Where to Turn After a Wrongful Death
If you believe that your loved one’s fatal accident was caused by the personal negligence of a driver or the willful disregard for traffic safety laws, contact us today. You and your family may be entitled to damages. Your loved one deserves justice and you’re the only one who can help her get it. Call us at 888-907-2631 to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. The consultation is free, but the advice is worth so much more.