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Can I be charged for manslaughter or fetal homicide if I cause a traffic accident that results in a miscarriage?

When you’re accused of causing a traffic accident, no matter how minor or severe, the advice of an experienced traffic defense lawyer can go a long way. However, the importance of representation becomes essential when the charge involves injuries or death. When your negligent or reckless driving causes a fatal accident, you could be charged with not only reckless endangerment, but also vehicular manslaughter.

Although these charges may seem justifiable, you may not know that you could also be charged with wrongful death if your negligence causes a pregnant woman to miscarry.

Wrongful Fetal Death in Virginia

In 2012, Virginia enacted an expansion of its cause of action for wrongful death to include wrongful fetal death. In essence, this expansion recognized unborn babies as protectable beings by law. In other words, fetuses were granted legal “personhood” and are protected by the same laws that protect all people. What this means to the at-fault driver in a crash that kills an unborn baby is that he will be held accountable for the death just as he would be if any other occupant of the car was killed. The accident could cause the mother to miscarry or could lead to a stillborn baby weeks later—either way, the at-fault driver can be charged with wrongful death. As an unborn baby is extremely vulnerable when riding in a car, you could find yourself facing very serious charges for what you may think is a minor car accident.

Therefore, the next time you decide that the consequences of checking your phone, running a stop sign, or drinking and driving is worth the risk, think about the defense you’ll need if your actions result in the death of an innocent person—unborn or otherwise.

Darwyn L. Easley
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Attorney and Counsellor at Law

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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