A family in Virginia Beach, VA, experienced unexpected risks to their lives when a pickup truck crashed through the wall of their home in the middle of the afternoon. The crash on a cul-de-sac off N. Great Neck Road happened shortly before 3 pm on December 2, 2020.
Three people, including a young child inside the house and the driver, went to hospitals with injuries, Police and EMTs did not release information regarding the nature or severity of the injuries suffered in this wreck in the 400 block of Sedgewick Court. It is known, however, that a child who was found pinned between the front of the truck and a playpen or toybox was transported to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
According to neighbors who rushed to provide assistance, the man behind the wheel of the pickup lost consciousness before slamming into the building. It does not appear that the driver knew the family whose house he hit.
It also does not appear that the driver ever slowed down. One man told a reporter with WAVY-TV 10, “The entire time he’s got his foot on the gas as far as you can go so it’s tires spinning and smoke going everywhere and stuff.”
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Later reporting by WTKR indicated that the driver suffered a seizure. Witnesses say he was awake and responsive when he was placed on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance.
Why Drivers Crash Into Buildings
Medical emergencies explain roughly 9 percent of collisions between vehicles and buildings. That estimate comes from the Storefront Safety Council. The consumer and retailer safety advocacy group does not track crashes into private residences, but it has spent most a decade documenting a growing problem, noting in a 2020 update that it adds between 250 and 300 crash reports to its database each month.
The other top reasons drivers crash into stores are choosing the wrong gear, mistaking the gas pedal for the brake, driving while intoxicated and losing control due to being involved in a traffic accident. Such incidents fall under the broader category of fixed object collisions. A fixed object can be a tree, traffic barrier or building.
According to the Highway Loss Data Institute of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths result from a vehicle leaving the roadway and hitting a fixed object alongside the road.” Of those deadly wrecks, a quarter (26 percent) occur at speeds below 35 mph and 42 percent happen on “minor roads” such as those through residential neighborhoods.
Suffering a Medical Emergency Does Not Absolve a Driver From Responsibility and Liability
Drivers have legal duties to keep their vehicles under control at all times. Part of meeting those duties involves ensuring you are healthy and alert enough to steer and brake in order to prevent collisions. Arguing “I passed out unexpectedly” will not stand as a defense against causing a crash and, consequently, owing compensation to people who suffered injuries.
My Virginia Beach-based personal injury law firm colleagues and I have held many drivers accountable after their diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions rendered them dangerous behind the wheel. Many facts remain to be learned about the crash into the house on Sedgewick Court, but it does seem possible that the family members who were hurt by the pickup driver’s negligence have grounds for filing insurance claims.