A serious tragedy may have been narrowly averted in Virginia Beach, VA, on November 20, 2014, when a Hampton Roads Transit bus, a tractor-trailer and a tanker truck carrying liquid fuel collided on General Booth Boulevard. Twelve people suffered injuries that required medical treatment, but the fuel did not ignite or explode and no loss of life or permanent disability was incurred.
The exact chain of events remained unclear while an investigation continued throughout the day, but video posted to the WAVY-TV 10 website shows that the tanker ran into the rear of the semi, which crashed into the back of the transit bus. Regardless of which driver is determined to be at fault for causing the wreck, sorting out liability and insurance coverage issues promises to be difficult.
HRT, for instance, is a quasi-government agency that operates under a board that includes elected and appointed officials selected by cities across the Tidewater area of Virginia. Uncontested broad application of limited sovereign immunity could absolve HRT from compensating any injured passengers for accident-related medical expenses or lost wages.
On the other hand, the commercial trucks and their operators carry multiple forms of insurance issued by several different insurers. The cabs, trailers, truckers and trucking companies likely all have separate coverages. Determining which policy protects individuals injured due to equipment failure, driver error or a combination of those factors can induce headaches and lead to delays that prompt people with legitimate injury claims to simply give up in the face of impenetrable bureaucracy and red tape.
Ensuring that victims of complex, almost assuredly avoidable, accidents like this one in Virginia Beach receive adequate compensation is why my Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I do our work. Injured parties can face long odds and unfair barriers in holding individuals and organizations that harmed them financially accountable. Each person hurt in this wreck should seek a free consultation with a plaintiff's lawyer who will advocate only for their interests.