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Shapiro & Appleton

Unsolved Fatal West Virginia Crash Leaves Victims Suffering

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When three cars became involved in a wreck on Route 52 in Brushfork, West Virginia (WV), the only thing survivors and police knew for sure was that two young children had lost their lives in a crash that might have been prevented. In mid-April 2015, the Mercer County sheriff leading the investigation into the deadly accident announced that this sad information remained all anyone would definitely know.

 

 

As reported by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, reconstructions of the incident made from victim testimony, scene photos, skid mark measurements and "black box" data collected by two of the vehicles' onboard computers related to speed, braking and direction proved "inconclusive." Still, the newspaper quoted the law enforcement official as saying that the car in which the deceased children were riding "turning left, coming from the Bluefield intersection coming toward Bluewell. They were slowing to make a left turn to go into Edgewood. A vehicle came from behind and struck it, and spun it around facing the other direction. The other vehicle was cresting the hill, and it struck it and pushed it off the road."

What police could not determine is whether the turning driver slowed or started to turn unsafely, whether the vehicle that rear-ended the car was speeding or if the third vehicle should have avoided striking the spun-out car. Because of the lingering uncertainties, the sheriff's office will not be bringing charges against any of the drivers. Nor can clear liability for any aspect of the multivehicle wreck be assigned.

This crash and its aftermath illustrate how difficult recovering from a fatal car accident can prove. First, after suffering the tragic loss of their children, the surviving parents had to wait more than a year for answers about why their loved ones were taken. Imagine their fresh grief when they learned no one would be held accountable by legal authorities.

Second, a police report that does not name an at-fault driver provides little support for collecting on insurance claims. While the car insurance policy held by the driver of the car in which the children lost their lives might offer compensation, agents from the company that issued the policy could try to deny payment on the grounds that the driver bore primary responsibility.

Both of these problems also highlight why accident victims need assistance from personal injury and wrongful death attorneys. Protecting one's rights and interests following a wreck can be difficult in even the most straightforward cases. When physical evidence proves unreliable, receiving compensation can become impossible without the help of an experienced and skilled plaintiff's lawyer.

EJL

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