A car driver’s jackrabbit start at a green light in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia (VA), set off a chain reaction that left a motorcycle rider badly injured. The three-vehicle collision happened at the intersection of Colley Avenue and West 21st Street at around 1:30 pm on August 1, 2017.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, a “Prius driver accelerated and hit [a] Corolla, which hit the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist fell and landed in the street when the Corolla rolled over him.” The motorcycle rider wound up pinned under the Corolla. Bystanders joined police and firefighters in lifting the car so EMTs could drag him free.
The motorcyclist was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with serious injuries. Police charged the Prius driver following too closely.
While usually thought of as a tailgating offense charged when a driver rear-ends another vehicle in traffic, the highlighted phrase from the relevant statute in the Virginia Code, section 46.2-816, makes it clear that mashing the accelerator at a green light meets the definition of following too closely:
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.
A Federal Highway Safety Administration analysis of “unsafe driver acts” that led to rear-end collisions includes the following experts’ ranking:
- Driving inattentively (e.g., reading, talking on the phone, fatigue-induced)
- Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly
- Failure to stop for a stop sign or light (also, early or late through a signal)
- Failure to slow down in a construction zone
- Unsafe speed (e.g., approaching too fast from the rear/misjudging truck's speed)
- Following too closely
The first, third and sixth reason might all have come into play in causing the wreck at Colley Avenue and West 21st Street in Norfolk. The last was actually cited in the preliminary crash report.
Whether or not law enforcement officials carry the moving violation case against the Prius driver through to a conviction, having the following too closely charge on the record could make it easier for the badly injured motorcycle rider file and settle insurance claims. The citation points to driver negligence, which what a plaintiff in a personal injury claim or lawsuit must prove.
Working with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer will help the motorcyclist collect, organize and present evidence to insurance representatives.