Thanksgiving night 2020 turned tragic in northwest Richmond, Virginia (VA), when the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light and caused a six-vehicle wreck that claimed the lives of two innocent people. Several other individuals suffered injuries in the chain-reaction crash at the intersection of Brookland Park Boulevard and Chamberlayne Avenue/U.S. 1.
According to police, the pickup truck driver “blew through” the stop signal in the area of the Diamond baseball park and near the campus of Virginia Union. Aside from the two individuals who died at the scene, the other crash victims are expected to recover. Charges against the pickup truck driver remained pending through the weekend.
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- How a Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney Handles Cases Involving Red Light Runners
News reports do not indicate why the at-fault driver ignored the red light, but a person who lives off Brookland Park Boulevard told a reporter from NBC affiliate WWBT that people often run the light. If the fatal collision on November 26, 2020, was just a matter of if, not when, the city should explore ways to increase the visibility of traffic controls in order to prevent future crashes.
At the same time, acknowledging that an intersection can be upgraded for safety does not relieve the pickup truck of responsibility or liability. State law and local ordinances make it clear that every driver has a constant duty to watch for and stop at red lights. Failing to meet that duty constitutes what personal injury and wrongful death attorneys call “negligence per se.” A driver who does not stop at a red light cannot deny acting negligently, which means the driver will then owe compensation to any people who were injured or killed due to the negligent act.
What if the At-Fault Driver Carries too Little Insurance to Compensate Each Victim?
The family members of the people who died in this multivehicle wreck on Chamberlayne Avenue in Richmond and the injured survivors will almost definitely need to find an answer to this question. Virginia requires drivers to carry only $25,000 in liability insurance. That doubles to $50,000 when more than one person has a legitimate wrongful death or personal injury claim.
Even if the at-fault pickup driver carries significantly more liability coverage, their insurer will likely have grounds for declaring many of the victims’ claims unpayable because its policyholder’s coverage limit has been reached. In that situation, the crash victim should be able to invoke the uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) provisions of their own car insurance policies.
Virginia requires each policy sold in the state to include UM/UIM clauses. Having claims paid under these provisions essentially requires suing one’s own insurance provider, so enlisting the advice and representation of a plaintiff’s attorney will make sense.