A slowdown near Exit 31 from northbound I-295 in Henrico County, Virginia (VA), provided the stage for a fatal chain reaction crash on the afternoon of October 2, 2017. The deadly three-vehicle wreck happened at 2:45 pm, beginning with a tractor-trailer slamming into the back of a 2000 Jeep at the interchange with N. Airport Drive and Market Road.
The force of the rear-end collision sent the older Jeep into the lane to the left, where it struck a 2013 Jeep. Both Jeeps then ran off the left side of the Richmond Beltway, with the 2013 vehicle overturning and ejecting its driver.
The 57-year-old driver of the 2013 Jeep and his 56-year-old female passenger died at the scene. Virginia State Police identified them as residents of Shepton, Pennsylvania (PA).
The 17-year-old driving the older Jeep suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive. A preliminary charge of reckless driving has been filed against the tractor-trailer operator who maintains a residence in North Dakota. Investigators continue to work the crash and may request additional charges based on their findings.
Under section 46-2.852 of the Virginia Code, “any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.” Another possible violation could be following too closely, Section 46.2-816 of the Virginia Code states, “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.”
Acting recklessly behind the wheel of tractor-trailer or neglecting one’s legal duty to maintain a safe distance behind another vehicle would make the truck driver involved in this fatal Henrico County crash responsible for settling personal injury insurance claims and paying wrongful death damages. This would be true even though the driver of the 2013 Jeep was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck. Virginia laws do not allow insurance companies or civil court judges to deny claims just on the grounds that a plaintiff did not buckle up.
My Virginia personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I have helped many victims of rear-end collisions caused by tractor-trailer drivers. A typical explanation is that a semi simply takes a long time to slow down and stop from highway speeds. That immutable truth of physics gives truck drivers a duty to keep a significant amount of space between themselves and vehicles in front of them.