Three teenaged girls remain hospitalized and a woman is dead following a head-on interstate collision in Raleigh County, West Virginia (WV). The deadly crash occurred on the afternoon of March 22, 2015. According to news reports, the at-fault driver stopped his SUV at the Gehnt Toll Plaza on I-77, rested for a short time, then pulled back onto the highway traveling north in the southbound lanes. After several near misses with oncoming traffic, he collided with a car about two miles away from the start of his wrong-way trip.
The man who caused the fatal wreck has been charged with murder, and other criminal counts may also be filed. Police do not yet known why he appears to have intentionally tried to crash with other vehicles, but information reported in several places indicate he has a history of making violent threats.
While many people who enter interstates via exit ramps or cross the center lines of surface roads are found to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, other people go the wrong way while fleeing arrest or with the thought of harming others. Regardless of motivations, all wrong-way drivers risk killing, critically injuring and permanently disabling innocent individuals on the road. Sadly, all those outcomes resulted from this wrong-way driving incident in West Virginia,
The small bit of good news is that victims of wrong-way collisions have opportunities to seek justice for, and compensation from, the person who harmed them in criminal court and through civil lawsuits. While convictions for violating traffic laws or committing violent acts cannot be used to support claims for insurance payments or monetary damage awards, all the evidence collected by law enforcement officials during a crash investigation can be used by a personal injury or wrongful death attorney acting on behalf of plaintiffs.
Those legal considerations are likely to be far from the minds of the family members of the woman who lost her life on I-77 or of the parents of the injured teenagers. When the time comes, however, they can take comfort in knowing that systems exist to help them recover financially.