The Law Offices of Locklin & Coleman, PLLC
Free Initial Consultation 703.659.1961

Main Office
9253 Mosby Street
Suite 100
Manassas, VA 20110

With Offices in Fairfax, Leesburg, and Warrenton

view our Practice areas

Virginia recognizes unborn babies as car accident victims

If a Virginia pregnant woman is injured in a car accident in Northern Virginia, the results can be doubly damaging. Injuries to the mother can cause severe harm to the fetus. In some instances, a car accident will prove fatal to the mother, to the fetus or to both. Accordingly, Virginia law allows for potential wrongful death lawsuits against negligent or reckless parties, which cause the death of a fetus.

In Virginia, a person who willfully and with premeditation kills a fetus in an illegal manner may be charged with a Class 2 Felony. It thus makes sense that in a statee with fetal homicide laws, there may also be cause for wrongful death if a fetus is killed accidentally via car accident. The statee stateute defines the potential negligent parties as either a person, corporation, vessel or ship. The stateute also defines the fetal death as caused by "neglect," "default" or a "wrongful act."

In certain key ways, a wrongful death action in Virginia regarding a fetal death differs from other wrongful death lawsuits. First, the lawsuit cannot be against the natural mother of the fetus. For instance, if an expecting mother takes large health risks and has a miscarriage as a result, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be brought against her. In a typical wrongful death lawsuit, a family member or other representative may bring suit. In wrongful fetal death lawsuits only the natural mother may bring suit.

Some people may not understand why, following a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party, family members of a fetus would need compensation. In many wrongful death lawsuits, compensation is obtained because the deceased person was a wage-earner and supported the family or other dependents. A fetus, of course, cannot contribute financially but the law recognizes compensation may still be needed. This compensation can be for funeral expenses, medical expenses prior to death and mental pain and suffering.

Source: NCSL.org, "Fetal homicide laws," accessed on Nov. 7, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
The Law Offices of Locklin & Coleman, PLLC

Office Locations

Manassas Office
9253 Mosby Street, Suite 100
Manassas, VA 20110

Phone: 703-659-1961
Fax: 703-393-7999
Manassas Law Office Map

Fairfax Office
4041 University Drive, Suite 404
Fairfax, VA 22030

Fairfax Law Office Map

Leesburg Office
One West Market Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

Map & Directions

Warrenton Office
P.O. Box 486
Warrenton, Virginia 20188

Map & Directions