A tragedy occurred in rural Middlesex County, Virginia (VA), on the evening of September 25, 2020. At around 7 pm, a woman exited a private driveway onto Route 33 and was struck by an oncoming pickup truck. The 73-year-old woman died at the scene of the T-bone crash west of the intersection with Route 625.
The driver of the other vehicle suffered serious, but non-life-threatening injuries and spent several days in the hospital. A passenger in the pickup escaped injury.
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Investigators determined that the woman who turned out of the private driveway caused the crash by failing to yield right of way. Section 46.2 of the Virginia Code states
The driver of a vehicle entering a public highway or sidewalk from a private road, driveway, alley, or building shall stop immediately before entering such highway or sidewalk and yield the right-of-way to vehicles approaching on such public highway and to pedestrians or vehicles approaching on such public sidewalk.
Because the woman was found to have violated this law, her family has no grounds for filing a wrongful death claim. Virginia enforces the rule of contributory negligence, which, plainly stated, bars a person from seeking compensation when they acted in a way that led to them suffering an injury or losing their life.
But what about the other injured driver? Can he file an insurance claim for the payment of his medical bills and to receive other types of compensation for his economic losses, pain and suffering?
Not knowing all the facts, the best answer is “possibly.” If the driver who survived this crash but wound up hospitalized was complying with all applicable traffic laws—for example, traveling at or below the speed limit, not distracted, sober—he would be legally entitled to seek compensation.
If the woman who did not survive the crash carried auto insurance, her policy will remain in effect until all outstanding claims are resolved. On the other hand, the injured man might be able to rely on uninsured motorist coverage provisions of his own policy.
Consulting with a Virginia attorney who has experience advising and representing victims of crashes involving the failure to yield the right of way would clarify the man’s legal options. The statute of limitations for filing an insurance claim following a crash in Virginia is two years, so healing physically and emotionally should be his first priorities.