A head-on collision in Prince William County, Virginia (VA), left two men dead and a third with injuries that were originally considered life-threatening. The fatal two-car crash happened a little after 8 pm on March 11, 2017, and law enforcement officials believe excessive speeding played a major role.
According to news reports, the at-fault drive passed Summerland Drive on westbound Prince William Parkway shortly before losing control and jumping the raised concrete median. He then slammed into a car traveling in the opposite direction, instantly killing himself and a passenger in the other vehicle. The passenger who died at the scene has been identified by state police as 24-year-old Miguel Montae Griffith of Fort Washington, Maryland (MD).
The innocent driver was flown by helicopter to a hospital in critical condition. Doctors now expect him to live. No information on the nature of his injuries or if he will experience any permanent disabilities is publicly available.
Investigators could not say whether the wrong-way driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the deadly head-on collision. They were clear, however, that he had been driving well over the speed limit.
Driving too fast is a leading cause of losing control of one's vehicle. Much of the reason for this is because each road is designed with a maximum safe speed in mind. The posted speed limit is usually 5-10 mph under that maximum, so exceeding it by even 15 mph will make it difficult or impossible to stay in one's lane while going around corners or to stop in time when approaching backed-up traffic or a red light. Small errors in steering also become more pronounced because a speeding vehicle covers more distance than a slower one.
Assigning numbers to the problems speeding creates, safety officials in Illinois determined that "a vehicle traveling 25 mph covers 37 feet in one second. At 55 mph, a vehicle covers 81 feet in a second, and at 70 mph, it's 103 feet." Translated back into plain English, this means that a crash could already have occurred by the time a speeding recognizes and starts to respond to the danger.
My Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our condolences out to the friends and family of the men who lost their lives in this possibly avoidable accident. We also wish the injured driver a quick and full return to health. Our hope is that people who learn of this tragedy in Prince William County take it as a reminder to slow down and obey speed limits.
Normally, a civil case alleging that the negligence of another driver caused a wrongful death is filed in the place where the crash occurred, though there are some other exceptions like filing in federal court when citizens are from different states are involved. In a civil action seeking damages arising from the head-on collision in Prince William County, Virginia law would apply. Our firm offers free reports relating to wrongful death damages that can be recovered and Virginia laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits.