A driver suspected of being intoxicated appears to have caused a fatal collision in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). The deadly crash between an SUV and a motorcycle happened at the intersection of Airline Boulevard and Holly Cove Drive on the night of July 7, 2017.
Police received the call about the wreck at 10:51 pm. They found the man operating the motorcycle and his passenger with life-threatening injuries and had them transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. A passenger in the SUV also suffered injuries, but news reports do not contain details on that person’s condition.
The motorcyclist, identified as Chesapeake resident Scott Gregory, died in the hospital the day following the collision.
Police took the SUV driver into custody at the scene of the crash and charged her with driving while impaired. Investigators also determined that she was attempting to turn left from Airline Boulevard when the motorcycle slammed into the side of her vehicle. The intersection is controlled by stop lights in all directions, so assigning fault for the wreck will depend in part on figuring out which vehicle had right of way.
Section 46.2-826 of the Virginia Code makes it clear that any driver turning left must yield to a vehicle going straight when that oncoming vehicle has a green light. The statute explicitly states
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. At intersections controlled by traffic lights with separate left-turn signals, any vehicle making a left turn when so indicated by the signal shall have the right-of-way over all other vehicles approaching the intersection.
The other factor to consider is the alleged intoxication. During 2015, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, 7,591 alcohol-related crashes occurred in Virginia. Of those crashes, 3,356 left one or more people injured and 228 left at least one person dead. These statistics actually understate the toll of DWI because they do not include wrecks involving a driver under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medications like opioid painkillers.
If police find evidence that the SUV driver failed to yield right of way while trying to turn onto Holly Cove Drive, the surviving passengers would have strong grounds for filing personal injury claims against her insurance policy. The family of the deceased motorcycle rider would also be able to pursue wrongful death compensation and damages.
Proof that that the SUV driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs might also allow the survivors to ask for punitive damages. Consulting with an experienced and empathetic Virginia wrongful death attorney would help the people harmed by the wreck in Chesapeake understand and exercise their legal options.