Virginia State Police continue searching for a tractor-trailer driver who killed a highway worker in Roanoke County, Virginia (VA). The hit-and-run collision happened a little after 2:30 am on June 28, 2022. While surveillance video exists, tracking down the trucker who fled the scene could take considerable time.

A State Police press release explains that the deadly crash happened at Exit 142. This is where I-81 North joins I-581 South into the city of Roanoke.

According to investigators, the tractor-trailer stuck the worker as the individual stepped out of a piece of construction equipment. Authorities also identified the victim as Matthew Frazier, 54, of Clifton Forge and stated he died from his injuries at the scene.

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Additional information provided by investigators indicates the deceased worker was wearing a reflective traffic vest. It appears the tractor-trailer operator never slowed down after hitting the worker.

All Drivers Must Operate Cautiously in Work Zones

Even if the work zone at the interchange of I-81 andI-581 lacked cones and lighted warning signs, all drivers approaching and passing the construction vehicles had a legal duty to change lanes or slow down. Staying to the right of road crews and reducing speed through work zones prevents injuries and saves lives.

Since the tractor-trailer involved in this hit-and-run collision failed to operate safely, that individual had another legal duty to remain on the scene. Section 46.2-896 of the Virginia Code spells out each drivers’ obligation to stop after crashing. The law against fleeing the scene also encourages drivers to render first aid to injured crash victims. When a hit-and-run victim dies, the at-fault driver faces felony charges.

A Death on the Job Can Create Legal Liability

Most readers understand that Virginia workers’ compensation covers fatal accidents like this hit-and-run collision. Less well-understood, however, are third-party lawsuits that can arise from such incidents.

Briefly, negligence or recklessness by a person or company other than the victim’s employer creates legal liability. Under the rules of third-party lawsuits, courts would treat this hit-and-run collision in a highway work zone no differently than any other hit-and-run case.

As a result, the family of the worker killed on I-81 in Roanoke County can file a workers’ comp claim and purse a wrongful death lawsuit. Consulting with an experienced and empathetic plaintiff’s attorney who has represented victims of truck crashes would clarify the steps to take.

EJL