A single-car wreck in Williamsburg, Virginia (VA), sent a 17-year-old passenger to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond with critical injuries. The crash happened in the 4700 block of Stadium Road at 2:30 pm on May 22, 2017, shortly after the car’s driver and the injured teen got out of class at Warhill High School.



According to news reports, the car ran off the right side of the two-lane road during a period of heavy rain. Speed may have played a factor, but James City County police have not filed charges against the 18-year-old driver.

Leaving the roadway caused the car to strike a sign and flip over onto its roof. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle and wound up partially pinned under the car. He remained unconscious and unresponsive in the hospital four days later.

Rain is linked to a majority of crashes blamed on bad weather. According to the Federal Highway Administration, an average of 228,196 people suffer injuries each year in wrecks that happen while it is raining. This accounts for 52 percent of all weather-related injuries, according to the agency.

One detail included in news reports on the Williamsburg wreck is that the injured passenger got thrown from the vehicle because, in part, he was not using a seat belt. While Virginia law does require all people to buckle up, the relevant statute also makes ensuring seat belt use the responsibility of the driver if he or she is older than 18. Further, section 46.2-1094D of the Virginia Code states


A violation of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this section change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

This means that a personal injury insurance claim filed by the injured student’s parents against the driver’s policy could not be rejected automatically on the grounds of contributory negligence. The teens’ families should also remember that insurance exists precisely for difficult situations like this. Claims will be handled by the insurer, not the driver directly. Working with a caring and experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer will make dealing with the insurance company and minimizing hard feeling easier.