A hit-and-run collision near downtown Norfolk, Virginia (VA), killed an innocent passenger, sent another person to the hospital with injuries and left the at-fault driver facing multiple charges. The fatal crash happened at around 9:20 pm on November 9, 2020, at the intersection of Tidewater Drive and Lafayette Boulevard.
According to news reports, the wreck happened when a woman driving a van slammed into a turning car. The impact killed the car’s passenger at the scene and badly injured the car’s driver. The woman behind the wheel of the van then fled on foot but returned shortly thereafter and was arrested by police. Preliminary charges have been filed against her for driving while intoxicated, felony hit and run, and refusing to submit to a breath or blood test for alcohol.
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The deceased victim has been identified as a 51-year-old father of three. A relative told local television station WVEC that the man had spent the day fishing with his family. My Virginia Beach-based wrongful death law firm colleagues and I extend our deepest condolences, along with wishes for a full and rapid recovery for the injured driver.
What Happens When an At-Fault Driver Flees?
This tragedy could have been compounded by the disappearance of the at-fault driver. Having the woman who caused the death and inflicted injuries in custody will make it easier to hold her both criminally and financially accountable.
It may still turn out, however, that the woman carries too little lability insurance to compensate her victims. Or it may be the case that she lacks insurance coverage altogether. In either case, the injured driver and grieving family should be able to file uninsured or underinsured motorist claims with their own car insurance providers.
Virginia law requires each car insurance policy sold in the state to include provisions that protect the victims of hit and run drivers, as well as drivers who fail to adequately insure themselves. An insurance company that receives an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim may still contest it and try to find way to avoid making a settlement, but victims’ rights to seek to compensation are guaranteed in Virginia.
Why Are Drunk Drivers So Dangerous?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration provides a detailed answer in an online factsheet titled “Alcohol and Driving”:
Judgment – Judgment is a brain-centered activity that stores all of your experiences and knowledge so it can be used quickly when you face a new problem. Alcohol and other impairing drugs affect those areas of your brain that controls judgment. This is one reason why drinking alcohol and taking certain types of drugs is so dangerous.
Vision – The most important sense you use in driving is vision. Alcohol and certain types of drugs can blur your vision, slow your ability to focus and cause double vision. Your vision helps you to determine how far away an object is and the object’s relationship to your path of travel. Alcohol and other impairing drugs reduce the ability to judge distance, speed and the movement of other vehicles. With increasing impairment, you could drift across the centerline, wander from lane to lane, or even run off the roadway. Vision is affected for all drivers at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as low as .02 g/dl.
Color Distinction – A lot of the information you receive on the roadway is from different colors such as traffic signs, signals and roadway markings. Alcohol and other impairing drugs reduce your ability to distinguish colors, which can be very dangerous.
Reaction Time – Alcohol and other impairing drugs slows your ability to process information and respond to critical driving tasks. Alcohol and impairing drugs makes you drowsy and less alert to what is around you.
Note that several of the impairments that make an intoxicated driver a danger to themselves and everyone else manifest after just a single 12-oz. beer, 4-oz. glass of wine or shot of liquor. The best, safest and most-responsible choice is always to either stay sober or hand off the keys. Lives depend on it.