A crash between a minivan and an 18-wheeler near downtown Roanoke, Virginia (VA), left a passenger in the smaller vehicle dead. Two other people in the minivan suffered injuries in the wreck that happened at around 7 pm on March 3, 2017.
Police could not immediately determine whether the semi operator or the minivan driver caused the deadly collision at the intersection of Orange Avenue/U.S. 460 and Plantation Road. Photos and video from the scene make it appear that the tractor-trailer driver was attempting to turn left from Orange Avenue and that the minivan was struck on its driver's side.
The intersection is controlled by stoplights in all directions, and the main roadway has dedicated left-turn lanes. If both the semi and minivan had green lights, the truck driver would have had a legal duty to yield right of way to the minivan. If the minivan driver saw a yellow light and the 18-wheeler standing partway in the intersection, she would have had the legal obligation to slow to a stop and let the big rig clear the intersection.
Specifically, section 46.2-825 of the Virginia Code states that "the driver of a vehicle, intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction if it is so close as to constitute a hazard."
Regarding yielding at a light in the process of changing from green to red, Virginia statutes require, "When the amber [i.e., yellow] signal is shown, traffic which has not already entered the intersection, including the crosswalks, shall stop if it is not reasonably safe to continue, but traffic which has already entered the intersection shall continue to move until the intersection has been cleared."
Reconstructing this fatal traffic accident in Roanoke down to the details laid out in the relevant passages of the Virginia Code matters for the injured survivors and the family of the passenger who died. The driver identified as the person who failed to yield right of way will have responsibility for settling insurance claims or paying compensation and damages after a lawsuit.
Working with an experienced Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney will be especially helpful if the tractor-trailer operator is found to be the at-fault driver. Big rigs are covered by multiple insurance policies, and figuring how each applies in a particular scenario is often complicated.