A collision between a tanker trucker and an SUV in Northern Virginia sent the driver of the smaller vehicle to the hospital with serious injuries and caused a hazmat spill. The wreck happened in an unincorporated part of Loudoun County, VA, at around 5:30 am on October 12, 2017.
The SUV wound up wedged under the tanker unit of the rig in the 39200 block of E, Colonial Parkway, which is also designated as VA Route 7. Pictures accompanying news reports on this crash near the community of Hamilton suggest that the truck was turning left out of a service station at the time of the crash and that the SUV was traveling straight in the eastbound lane of the two-lane highway.
The woman in the SUV wound up trapped, and emergency responders had to cut her free. She was then flown to Reston Hospital Center with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. The impact also punctured the tanker unit, spilling an undisclosed amount of gasoline. This led Virginia State Police to treat the wreck as a hazmat situation.
No charges were immediately filed. If investigators do determine that the tanker truck driver cut off the SUV while making a left-hand turn, they could cite the trucker for making an improper turn and with failing to yield right of way. The latter is considered reckless driving under section 46.2-863 of the Virginia Code, which requires drivers entering highways to stop when any vehicle is within 500 yards of the point of entry.
The state law requiring turning drivers to yield right of way is less-specific, stating only that “the driver of a vehicle, intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction if it is so close as to constitute a hazard.” Both statutes place legal duties on drivers to act to avoid collisions that cause injuries.
Failing to meet the duty to yield right of way would make the tanker truck driver negligent and responsible for settling personal injury claims filed by the woman in the SUV. The company that employed the truck driver could also have some insurance liability, as could the company that leased the tanker unit if the woman suffered chemical burns or other health complications from the spilled gasoline.
Partnering with a Virginia personal injury lawyer who has experience helping victims of crashes caused by truck drivers and with handling cases involving hazardous materials would help the injured SUV driver hold the responsible parties accountable. My plaintiff’s attorney colleagues and I wish her a full recovery and a rapid return to health.