When a pickup truck ran off the road near Willis in Floyd County, Virginia (VA), just before 1 am on June 21, 2015, one of the passengers sustained injuries that proved fatal. Another passenger in the vehicle suffered serious injuries, and police who responded to scene close to the intersection of Route 628/Rock Church Road and Route 758/Buffalo Mountain Road collected enough evidence to file a preliminary charge of DUI manslaughter against the pickup's driver, who also got injured.
News reports include few details about the exact cause of the fatal wreck or the nature of the victims' injuries. Everyone should recognize, however, that driving after getting drunk or stoned sets the stage for tragedy. Alcohol and drugs reduce coordination, increase drowsiness and leave users unable to respond quickly and appropriately to changes in road and traffic conditions. Whether the pickup driver swerved to avoid an animal or other vehicle, hit a slick patch of pavement or took a curve too quickly matters less than his earlier decision to take the wheel while impaired.
Each deadly car and truck crash inflicts emotional suffering and, often, financial hardship on the family members of the deceased victim. Insurance settlements and, when appropriate, awards from civil wrongful death lawsuits can ease some of those burdens and deliver closure . Pursing those options can be difficult after single-vehicle wrecks, though. The passenger who lost their life in the Floyd County pickup truck crash likely knew or was related to the alleged drunk driver. Surviving family members may understandably feel conflicted about making claims for compensation.
Recognizing the emotions at play, the family should keep in mind that insurance exists precisely to allow compensation without assigning undue blame or penalty. The policy, not the driver, makes payments.