Crash at Car Wash Kills Employee, Injures Customer | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A chain-reaction crash at a car wash in Prince William County, Virginia (VA), left an employee who had been walking across the parking lot fatally injured. A customer also suffered non-life-threatening injuries when she moved to avoid one of the vehicles involved in the pileup.



Local police responded to the incident at the business off Liberia Avenue just after 9 am on March 24, 2018. They had they 38-year-old female employee who was struck taken a local hospital, but she died shortly after being admitted.

Investigators quickly determined that another car wash employee set off the deadly chain reaction by losing control of a Jeep he was driving out of one of the wash bays. He collided with a pickup truck, and the truck knocked a car into the woman who would lose her life.

It remains unclear why the employee moving the Jeep failed to maintain control of the vehicle. If evidence shows that he was operating in a negligent or reckless manner, the family of his deceased co-worker may have grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Even when fatal workplace accidents result in workers’ compensation claims, victims or their families retain legal rights to seek compensation and damages from an individual or company that caused the accident.

The injured customer may have grounds for filing personal injury insurance claims against both the employee who drove the Jeep and the company that owns and operates the car wash. Under the legal concept of premises liability, businesses have enforceable legal duties to protect the lives and health of customers. If the business owner failed to properly train or supervise the employee who lost control of the Jeep, it would need to cover the injured customer’s medical bills and possibly pay other forms of compensation.

This tragedy in the Manassas area of Prince William County sadly illustrate both how all workplaces can be deadly and that pedestrians are never completely safe in parking lots. Through July 2016, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry recorded 19 on-the-job deaths. Causes ranged from falls and electrocutions to motor vehicle accidents.

To promote parking lot safety, the National Safety Council offers these tips to drivers:


  • Stay in lanes and avoid cutting across lots.
  • Drive slowly and use directional signals.
  • Anticipate the actions of other drivers.
  • Obey stop signs and no-parking signs.
  • When backing out, be mindful of vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Watch for small children and parents with baby strollers.