A two-vehicle crash on the interstate through James City County, Virginia (VA), left one woman dead, another innocent person hospitalized with injuries and one of the drivers facing several criminal charges. The deadly rear-end collision happened shortly before 9 pm on March 27, 2021.
State police say the stage for the fatal wreck was set when an unknown driver cut off a Toyota SUV at mile marker 227 of I-64. The man behind the wheel of the SUV stomped on his brakes and was hit from behind by a Chevy pickup truck. The force of the impact sent both vehicles off the road and ejected the female passenger in the pickup through the windshield.
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The woman died at the scene of the crash, and a passenger in the SUV suffered unspecified injuries that were treated at VCU Medical Center. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the driver of the pickup truck was immediately charged with reckless driving, driving without a seatbelt and driving without a valid operator’s license. State troopers indicated that they expected to file additional charges once they completed their investigation.
What the Reckless Driving Charge Means
Section 46.2-852 of the Virginia Code states this general rule: “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”
In practice, a police officer or state trooper can allege reckless driving whenever negligent actions such as speeding, going too fast when the roadway is wet or icy, following too closely or becoming distracted behind the wheel results in a crash that leaves someone injured or dead. News reports do not provide enough information about the rear-end collision in James City County to infer what the driver of the pickup did wrong during the moments before he run into the back of the SUV, but troopers did believe they saw enough evidence to name him as being at fault.
Now, no matter what happens in regards to criminal prosecution, the injured SUV passenger and the family of the woman who died after riding in the pickup can cite the conclusions of the state troopers in order to substantiate personal injury and wrongful death claims. Securing a conviction will not be necessary to allow insurance claims or civil lawsuits to move forward. At the same time, all the evidence collected and compiled by law enforcement officials can be used to support claims for compensation.
Collecting on injury and death claims may be complicated by the fact that the at-fault driver does not hold a valid license and likely does not carry car insurance. However, uninsured and underinsured motorist provisions of the victims’ own insurance policies can be invoked. Consulting with a Virginia plaintiffs’ attorney will clarify how to pursue this option.