A driver who never struck the other vehicle may be at fault for causing a deadly crash on I-264 in Norfolk, Virginia (VA). The fatal wreck happened at 2:49 pm on July 7, 2017.
The woman who lost her life in the incident was a passenger in a Dodge Charger that ran off the road between the Military Highway exit and the I-64 interchange. Virginia State Police told reporters that the Dodge was traveling in one of the center lanes when its driver spotted a BMW approaching from behind and decided to move right. The BMW also changed lanes to the right, and the driver of the Dodge lost control while swerving to prevent a rear-end collision.
The Dodge slammed into a Jersey wall on the right-hand shoulder, inflicting fatal injuries on the passenger and serious injuries on the driver. The person behind the wheel of the BMW did not stop. State troopers are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or who knows the identity of the BMW driver to call them at (757) 424-6800. Tips can also be texted to #77.
Law enforcement officials need to speak with the BMW driver to determine if he or she committed a traffic violation or acted negligently. For instance, section 46.2-841 of the Virginia Code prohibits passing on the right in most circumstances. The statute explains that drivers should move into the left lane to pass unless
- The vehicle in front is making a left-hand turn on a surface road and the right-hand lane is open,
- Two lanes to the right of the slower-moving vehicle on the interstate or highway are free of traffic for a considerable distance, or
- The vehicles are on a one-way street and no obstructions are to the right of the stopped or turning vehicle ahead.
The statute also explicitly states, “The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.” Such conditions may not have existed if I-264 was as crowded as it can often get or if the driver of the BMW was speeding or distracted.
If the BMW driver is located and found responsible for causing the Dodge to leave the roadway and crash, he or she may try to avoid insurance/financial liability by pointing to the fact that the passenger who died was not wearing a seat belt. While Virginia requires passengers to buckle up, failing to do so does not constitute contributory negligence under state law. This means that a wrongful death claim could not be blocked simply because the seat belt was not in use.
If the BMW driver remains unidentified, the family of the woman who died and the injured Dodge driver may be able to seek compensation and damages under the uninsured motorist provisions of their own auto insurance policies. Consulting with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney will help the crash victims learn about their legal options and deal with insurance representatives.