What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

In general, vehicular homicide, also called negligent homicide, involves a person’s death that is the result of a driver’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or resulting from operating a vehicle while committing some unlawful act that may not necessarily amount to a felony.  The charges are compounded if the negligent driver was drunk, DWI, or under the influence of drugs at the time of the collision.

The victim of a vehicular homicide wrongful death can either be a pedestrian, another motorist, or a cyclist, or the victim can be the passenger in the car, SUV, boat, truck, bus, or motorcycle.

In West Virginia, when the wrongful death of any person happens within one year as a  result of injuries received by an individual who is in reckless disregard of the safety of others, the person who caused the collision may be guilty of negligent homicide.

In WV, this crime may be punished by imprisonment for up to one year and/or by a fine of $100.00 to $1,000.00 and that driver may lose his or her license if convicted of negligent homicide.

The term “vehicular homicide” has been discussed lately as Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner faces charges stemming from a deadly four-car accident in which Jenner was involved.  One woman was killed in the wreck and others injured.

The police investigation into the deadly four-car accident involving Jenner is finished and the results could lead to a misdemeanor manslaughter charge.  The laws pertaining to vehicular homicide have the legal effect of calling a vehicle which is being recklessly driven a potentially deadly or dangerous weapon.

Jenner was driving a black Cadillac SUV that was the third vehicle in a multiple rear-end collision.  Jenner’s SUV hit a car from behind, sending it into oncoming traffic where it was hit by another SUV.  That driver died at the scene.

Even though Jenner was traveling under the posted speed limit, the investigation determined that Jenner was going at an unsafe speed for the conditions at the time of the collision.

The DC Caller recently featured an editorial that contemplates the question that is on the minds of some:  if Jenner is criminally charged and found guilty, does he/she face time in a male or female prison? Of course, this will never happen, as Jenner will hire the best defense attorney available.  That’s an interesting question that will have to be decided by the courts, but nevertheless, male or female, that issue would not affect the insurance issues related to the personal injury and wrongful death claims resulting from that collision.

As far as compensation for a family who has suffered such a tragic loss due to the negligence of another motorist, insurance may not only be limited to policy limits but also punitive damages resulting in greater compensation may be pursued if the negligence was due to DUI or DWI.

Morgantown Wrongful Death Attorney

If your family has suffered the loss of a loved one, provider, or child, just as the offending driver must retain a criminal lawyer for the protection of his or her legal rights, it is imperative that the suffering from that driver’s actions retain an attorney to represent their best interests.  The insurance companies are just that, companies most concerned with their bottom line.

To secure your financial future after such a tragic loss, contact a Morgantown personal injury attorney for a free consultation today.  304-594-1800 to speak directly with a National Board Certified Trial Attorney for his opinion of your case based on twenty-five years experience with insurance companies and collision claims.

You May Also Want to Check Out These Articles:

Other articles you will find helpful:

Should I use Facebook or other Social Media if Considering an Injury Claim?

If you wait, it may be too late.

It is Your Responsibility to Protect Your Legal Rights after an Accident.

Why is the Insurance Company Offering so Little for my Claim?

CNN, “Caitlyn Jenner could face misdemeanor manslaughter charge in car crash,” By Steve Almasy and Paul Vercammen, August 20, 2015.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in WV after a Mining Fatality

A West Virginia woman is suing the mining company, the mining supervisor in charge of mining safety services, and the manufacturer and distributor of the machinery after her husband was killed on the job in an underground mine. She is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages based on negligence in a lawsuit filed in Pineville, WV in Wyoming Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, this woman’s husband was employed as an underground coal miner when his supervisor started a continuous mining machine, crushing to death this employee who was standing very near the machine.

Coal extraction: Coal mine excavatorWest Virginia coal miners are among the hardest working professionals in America. Every year, miners are injured or killed because the coal operators continue to circumvent or violate safety laws for the protection of the miners. Despite strong MSHA regulations, coal mining continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.

Most West Virginians are familiar with Worker’s Compensation Insurance which will cover only a portion of the cost of workplace injuries or financial compensation for a work-related death.

Many do not know, however, that West Virginia has a second avenue for compensation for injured employees, but to pursue this, deliberate intent on the part of the employer must be proved.

To Prove Deliberate Intent on the part of your employer, you must prove:

  • That a specific unsafe working condition existed in the workplace which presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death;
  • That the employer had a subjective realization and an appreciation of the existence of such a specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the unsafe working condition;
  • That the specific unsafe working condition was a violation of a state or federal safety statute, rule, or regulation, whether cited or not, or of a commonly accepted and well-known safety standard within the industry or business of such employer, which statute, rule, regulation, or standard was specifically applicable to the particular work and working condition involved, as contrasted with a statute, rule, regulation, or standard generally requiring safe workplaces, equipment (especially used heavy equipment for sale), or working conditions;
  • That the employer thereafter exposed an employee to such specific unsafe working condition intentionally; and
  • That the employee suffered serious injury or death as a direct and proximate result of such specific unsafe working condition.

 In many workplace injury and wrongful death cases, there is a third party who can also be held liable for negligence. The third-party can include the manufacturer of a piece of defective industrial equipment, the property owner or a subcontractor working on the same job site.  A skilled personal injury attorney knows how to find all the insurance available to a family after such tragedy.

If you have questions regarding workplace injuries or a wrongful death resulting from a work-related accident as well as for the drinking and driving accident claim management, call the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today to find answers or to order free educational resources to help you make decisions about your best next step. 304-594-1800.

Related Articles:

New Regulations Mandate Proximity Detectors for Continuous Mining Machines

West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion: Many Questions, Few Answers

Quick Report: What you need to know if you have a Workplace Injury

Mining Accident in West Virginia

Source: The West Virginia Record, “Mine Fatality Results in Lawsuit,” by Annie Cosby, April 7, 2014.

Settlements Offered for Wrongful Death and Injuries from All Good Festival

September 12, 2012:  Update on All Good Festival Wrongful Death Lawsuits:

A federal judge approved two lawsuit settlements reached in the death of a South Carolina woman last year at the All Good Music Festival.
The woman’s family will receive about $572,000 once fees and expenses are paid, court documents state.
U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley said Monday that the settlements Kim S. Miller, the woman’s father, reached with Clay Harlin Lewin, the man who hit her, and James Tobin and his security firm, Jim Tobin Productions, are fair and reasonable.

According to the Dominion Post, September 5, 2012, the father of a South Carolina woman killed at the last All Good Music Festival on Marvin’s Mountaintop wants to settle with several parties in a civil suit.  Kim S. Miller, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., filed suit against promoter Walther Productions and its principals, Tim Walther and Junipa Contento; against Marvin Huggins, owner of Marvin’s Mountain; and against several security firms, including Jim Tobin, owner of Tobin Productions.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg recently, Miller asked the court to approve “tentative policy limit settlements” with Walther, Huggins and Tobin.
The settlements were to be presented for court approval at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg on Tuesday.  No amounts were disclosed in court documents, and Miller’s attorney, Will Early, said he could not comment on the proposed settlements.
Elizabeth Doran and Yen Ton were injured at the festival and Miller’s daughter, Nicole, was killed when a truck driven by Clay Harlin Lewin, of Virginia, ran over the tent in which they were sleeping.
Doran and Ton filed suits against the same parties Miller claims had a role in the incident that killed his daughter, who was 20. All three parties reached settlements with Lewin’s insurance company.
The company was to pay $300,000 to Nicole Miller’s estate, and $100,000 each to Doran and Ton.
Suits are still pending against Event Staffing Inc., of Virginia; National Event Services Inc., of New Hampshire and Axis Security Inc., of Tennessee.
There are also suits pending against individuals associated with some of the companies.

Source:  The Dominion Post, “Victim’s Dad asks Court for Approval,” by Michelle Wolford, September 6, 2012.

Settlements are on the table in three suits filed against a Virginia man in the death of one woman and the injury of two others at the 2011 All Good Music Festival.  According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, attorneys for Clay Harlin Lewin, of Cape Charles, Va., have offered a settlement to Kim S. Miller, whose daughter, Nicole Faris Miller, was killed when Lewin’s truck ran over her tent. Offers are also on the table in suits filed by Yen Ton and Elizabeth Doran, who were injured at the same time on July 17, 2011.

Lewin’s insurance company, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., had coverage limits of $300,000 for each person and $500,000 for each accident, according to a letter filed in the court (more information on compensation at https://mesotheliomaexplained.com/compensation/mesothelioma-lawyer/ – for cancer-related health issues). The company offered $300,000 for Nicole Miller’s estate, and $100,000 each for Ton and Doran.  According to a letter included with court documents, Miller’s estate asked for $13.5 million; Ton for $3.7 million and Doran for $975,000.

Lewin acknowledged he lost control of his pickup but blames the parking and security agents who told him to park on a steep, grassy slope near tents and other vehicles.

They were there when he arrived, he says, but no one was present to guide him out when he tried to leave.

Lewin, of Cape Charles, is among about a dozen organizers, producers, promoters and corporations sued over the accident. The other cases remained on track for trials Monday.

Ton, Doran and Kim Miller are also suing: campground operator Marvin’s Mountaintop LLC; Maryland-based Walther Productions; California-based Tobin Productions; M&M Parking Inc. of Pennsylvania; and three security providers, Event Staffing Inc. of Virginia, National Event Services Inc. of New Hampshire, and Axis Security Inc. of Tennessee. Some principals of those companies are also being sued as individuals.  All have denied culpability, and most have filed counterclaims against each other.

What does the term “wrongful death” imply?  For more information about wrongful death and catastrophic injuries, please visit our website at http://www.robinettelaw.com

Wrongful Death in West Virginia: Get the Facts

What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death lawsuit against a workplace, business, or individual is filed when an untimely death is caused by a devastating, catastrophic event like civil or criminal negligence, accident, product failure, or medical malpractice (like in the case of side effects of Xarelto and health-related lawsuits).  A wrongful death has tragic results for family members, children, and dependant parents.  A successful wrongful death claim can ease the financial burden of the surviving family members.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

A West Virginia wrongful death claim may be filed up to two years after the untimely death.  Two years may seem a long time, but delays in representation allow for the destruction of vital evidence which will affect your claim.  It is important to retain an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.  A wrongful death has tragic economic and psychological implications for family members, children, and dependant parents.  Loving family, friends, and support groups may help you deal with the emotional pain of your loss.  You will also need a lawyer experienced in handling wrongful death claims to aid your family in moving forward from your tragic loss through monetary recovery for the damages your family has suffered.

Who may file a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim may be filed by the deceased’s estate, parents, surviving spouse, and adult and minor children of the deceased parent.

What damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?

Some of the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim are:  medical and funeral expenses, lost future earnings, and loss of relationship (also called consortium).

What types of insurance may be available for compensating a wrongful death claim?

Insurance benefits may include motor vehicle insurance of the at-fault party, business insurance, uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance of the deceased, umbrella policies, funeral benefits, survivor benefits, personal insurance coverage, and personal and business assets of the at-fault party.

What are some factors which may affect the value of a wrongful death claim?

  • The facts of the accident which caused the death:  whether the cause of the accident was egregious or simply a “mistake” will affect the claim’s value.
  • The claim may be worth more if the cause of death is uncontested.
  • The amount of pain, fear, and suffering preceding the death may factor into a wrongful death claim’s value.
  • The number of potential beneficiaries and the age of the deceased:  the value of a claim for a decedent who was married with dependent children will be higher than for an older, single person.
  • The identity of the party who caused the death:  a grandmother who “made a mistake” will be viewed more sympathetically than a multi-million dollar corporation.
  • Insurance coverage:  if the party who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured, damages may not be recoverable unless that party has substantial personal assets.
  • The personal character and reputation of the deceased will affect how the wrongful death claim is viewed.
  • The experience and reputation of your lawyer:  The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize your claim and avoid paying full compensation.  They will hire or use company lawyers to aggressively fight your claim.  These types of claims are complicated and can be lost on technical or procedural violations.  It is essential for you to hire an attorney who has a reputation for experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

righting_the_wrong_3dBeside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3DCollision Care