Decedent mother was a 38-year-old resident of Windsor, Virginia, and on Dec. 12, 2014, was seven months pregnant with her baby (aka Henry Wyatt Acree). She left work that evening on her way home from Suffolk to Windsor, traveling westbound on Pruden Boulevard, Route 460, near Old Myrtle Road, in Suffolk. Route 460 is a four lane, undivided highway. At the same time and place, the defendant made an improper lane change and collided with decedent’s Jeep, causing the decedent to go into the oncoming lanes. When decedent attempted to get back into her lane, she was then T-boned in her driver’s side door.
Both mother and 7-month-old fetus were pronounced dead at the scene. Policy limits were paid.
These causes of action were brought under Virginia Code §§ 8.01-50 and 8.01-50B and 32.1-249.2 for the 7-month-old fetus, Henry Wyatt Acree. For many years, Virginia case law had held that “since a fetus in not a legally cognizable ‘person’ separate from its mother until birth, Virginia’s Wrongful Death Statute does not allow a cause of action for the death of an unborn child.”
The 2012 amendment, effective July 1, 2012, created such a cause of action for a fetus, regardless of the term.
Related story: Man settles claim for fetal death[15-T-114]
Type of action: Auto accident – wrongful death of mother and fetus
Name of case: Acree v. Austin
Court: Suffolk Circuit Court
Date resolved: Aug. 12, 2015
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Amount: $1,000,000 ($500,000 for mother and $500,000 for fetus)
Attorney for plaintiff: John E. Zydron, Virginia Beach