Virginia State Police continue investigating a two-vehicle crash in Fauquier County that left one woman dead and the other driver injured. The fatal head-on collision on Route 50/John Mosby Highway happened on the afternoon of January 5, 2018, when the man driving a Dodge Durango crossed the center line of the highway near Saint Louis Road in Middleburg.
The woman, identified as a 41-year-old equine veterinarian from Bluemont, died at the scene. No charges have been filed against the surviving driver who went left of center, though section 46.2-804 of the Virginia makes it clear that no driver should cross over a double yellow line like the one along the stretch of Route 50 where this deadly wreck occurred.
As Virginia wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I know that law enforcement authorities often refrain from charging a driver for causing a head-on collision until they can determine exactly why the person departed from his or her own lane. Leading explanations for driving into the path of oncoming traffic include becoming distracted behind the wheel and speeding around a curve.
Other preventable errors or reckless actions that can result in crossing a center line -- and, interestingly, all listed in the Indiana driver’s manual as reasons for instantly failing a road test to receive a licensee -- include
- Failure to react to hazardous driving conditions,
- Driving too fast for conditions,
- Turning into or using the wrong lane,
- Passing in a no passing zone, and
- Straddling a lane marker
Driving too fast and failing to respond to hazards are both possibilities in this tragedy because a mix of snow and ice left over from a snow storm that ended a day earlier may have coated the roadway.
Whatever reason investigators find for this fatal head-on collision in Fauquier County, the family of the woman who lost her life probably have strong grounds for filing a wrongful death claim against the insurance policy of the other driver. Since the man did not stay on his side of the highway, he can very likely be held liable for compensating victims of the resulting crash even if no criminal charges are brought by the State Police.
Speaking with a caring and experienced plaintiff’s attorney in Virginia will help the deceased woman’s loved ones understand the difference between civil liability and criminal culpability. A lawyer who has handled wrongful death cases arising from traffic crashes will also help the family access and use the evidence collected by police to support their insurance claim.