A fatal three-vehicle accident on Virginia's Eastern Shore is sure to raise serious questions about which driver bears liability for the death of a 19-year-old passenger. The wreck occurred at the interchange between Route 13 and Daugherty Road near the town of Tasley, Virginia (VA), on the morning of February 18, 2016.
According to Virginia State Police investigators, the incident began when a pickup truck driver attempted to merge onto the highway in Accomack County and struck a van. No one reported injuries from that wreck, but police charged the woman driving the pickup with failure to yield right of way to the van.
As the people in those two vehicle stepped out into the roadway, a tractor-trailer arrived and hit the teenager, who died immediately. News reports do not indicate whether the semi driver will be charged.
The van passenger who lost his life when he became a pedestrian seems blameless, meaning his family could have grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. But, legally, is the tractor-trailer operator or the pickup driver to blame?
Answering that larger question requires determining a number of facts that are not clear from the available news reports. These range from whether the semi driver was speeding or distracted and unable to avoid the accident for that reason, to whether the woman in the pickup had knocked the van into a location where exiting would be unsafe under any circumstances short of stopping traffic altogether. The actions of the person driving the van will also be investigated by law enforcement officials and insurance company representatives.
While such legal matters are surely far from the minds of the family members who so recently lost a loved one, they should consider speaking with an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney who has handled cases involving multiple drivers and commercials trucks. Protecting their rights and interests may become difficult as the case gets more complicated and contentious.