A multivehicle collision on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula sent a mother and two of her children to the hospital with injuries. The Friday evening crash on John Clayton Memorial Highway just west of the turnoff to Patriot’s Way also claimed the life of the 89-year-old driver who initiated the chain reaction.
According to multiple news reports, the elderly driver behind the wheel of a pickup truck ran into the back of the family’s SUV. The man died on impact, and his truck careened into a work truck that a private paving company had parked in the right-hand lane of the rural highway.
In fact, two of the contractor’s vehicle were in the travel lane, which is why the mother driving the SUV had come to a stop in the moments before being rear-ended. The woman and her kids are expected to recover.
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State police continued their investigation into the deadly December 4, 2020, crash through the weekend. The Commonwealth’s attorney for Gloucester County was reportedly weighing whether to file charges against the paving company.
Section 46.2-888 of the Virginia Code makes it illegal to stop on a highway except in an emergency situation. Specifically, the statute prohibits stopping “a vehicle in such manner as to impede or render dangerous the use of the highway” if the vehicle can be safely moved out the path of oncoming cars, trucks, etc.
The mother had to stop in order to prevent an emergency. The contractors, at the very least, could have pulled their work trucks onto the wide and partially paved shoulder.
Potential Liability for the At-Fault Driver and the Paving Company
Pretty much the first thing you learn as a personal injury attorney is that negligence makes a driver or company liable for compensating innocent victims of an accident. In the context of this crash on John Clayton Memorial Highway in Gloucester County, both the elderly driver and the contractors failed to meet their duties to keep the mother and her children safe and unharmed.
The man driving the pickup truck failed to stop or change lanes in time to avoid causing the rear-end collision. The paving contractor failed to move its work vehicles off the roadway. Even if the prosecutor decides not to move forward with charges, the fact that the parked trucks created a hazard cannot be denied.
Virginia allows accident victims to file insurance claims against all the parties that negligently caused injuries. The state also ensures that insurance policies for at-fault drivers who die in the crashes they cause remain in effect until all legitimate claims are resolved. Potentially, then, the family who survived this highly avoidable wreck could hold both the pickup truck driver and the paving company accountable for paying medical bills and providing compensation for pain and suffering.