A tow truck driver lost his life while working on the shoulder of I-495 in Fairfax County, Virginia (VA). The fatal pedestrian accident occurred around 10 am on December 29, 2014, near Exit 49 onto Route 7 from the southbound lanes of the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway. According to television station WUSA-9, the wrecker operator had pulled over to remove a disabled vehicle from the interstate through the city of Falls Church, and the driver of the box truck that struck and killed him may have been unable to avoid the collision because his commercial vehicle had defective brakes.
The at-fault box truck driver now faces at least one count of reckless driving. It remains unclear whether he will also be charged with causing a death or violating other traffic regulations. Virginia requires people approaching emergency responders such as tow truck operators who are working by the side of the road to slow down or change lanes to create a safety buffer. The person who ran into and fatally injured the wrecker driver obviously failed to follow that so-called move-over law, but the faulty equipment on the box truck may be partially to blame for that.
Answering questions regarding how much the truck driver’s recklessness and the negligent maintenance on his vehicle each contributed to setting the stage for the deadly crash will be important for assigning legal liability. Family members of the wrecker operator who lost his life may have grounds for filing wrongful death claims against the truck driver, the company that owned the box truck, the firm that manufactured the brakes or other individuals and corporations. The point of any lawsuit would not be to maximize financial gain, but to hold the people and entities accountable for inflicting such a heavy loss on the victim’s loved ones.
My deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of the deceased man.