A weeklong investigation into a fatal accident at the I-264 and I-664 interchange in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA), has revealed that the operator of a motor grader being used to clear snow and ice from the interstate caused the collision. A car's driver lost his life in the wreck, which occurred on the night of February 17, 2015.
The construction vehicle belongs to a private company whose services were secured by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Because VDOT has a relatively small fleet of snow plows stationed south of Richmond, the agency relies on a number of Tidewater-based road construction and maintenance contractors to clear major roads following winter storms.
WAVY-TV 10 was first to report that the operator of the motor grader -- a modified backhoe with a wide scraping blade under its boom -- could face charges for causing the deadly crash. Details regarding what error the equipment operator committed were not disclosed, but it appears from other available information that the motor grader backed out of a uncleared lane into the path of oncoming traffic.
Regardless of whether police continue treating the tragic accident as a criminal matter, the incident raises difficult questions about civil liability. That is, determining whether the motor grader operator, the private company that employed him or VDOT bears responsibility for compensating the deceased victim's family loom large. Answering those questions will require determining whether the individual employee followed clear instructions and did not act recklessly; whether the private company properly trained, supervised and equipped the operator; and whether VDOT had appropriate procedures in place to ensure the safe conduct of contractors.
Consulting with a Virginia wrongful death attorney who has experience representing survivors in court cases and in holding government agencies accountable can help the victims' family protect their rights and interests.