A man accused of speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol is facing charges for causing a fatal rear-end collision on I-64 in Goochland County, Virginia (VA), on March 1, 2015. The deadly crash occurred near the Shallow Well Road overpass northwest of Richmond.
According to state police, the at-fault driver struck the deceased victim's Nissan Sentra from behind, forcing it off the road and into a tree. Two women, identified as sisters from Rockville who had traveled to a baby shower and were planning to attend a family funeral in a few days, died from their injuries at the scene. Another passenger in the car survived without injuries, as did the at-fault driver and the person driving a third vehicle involved in the wreck.
Family members already in mourning must now feel overwhelmed by shock and grief at this additional, unexpected loss. While every DUI and reckless driving crash that results in death represents a preventable tragedy, this incident in central Virginia stands as one of the worst roadway events imaginable.
Nothing could ever adequately compensate the family for the emotional pain and grief the alleged drunk driver inflicted on them. However, Virginia law does allow claims for punitive damages against individuals who act with reckless disregard for victims' health and lives. Proof that a person drove while intoxicated often substantiates punitive damage awards. Now is certainly too soon for the family to consider such legal matters, but the knowledge that a mechanism for seeking some form of financial justice could provide comfort in the future.