Even driving in clear conditions can be dangerous with a lapse of attention, mechanical failure, or unexpected actions from other drivers, pedestrians, or even animals. But when a driver is driving unsafely by recklessly disregarding the safety of other drivers or their passengers, including driving under the influence, tragedy is unfortunately even more likely to strike.

In Virginia, the chance of being in a crash due to alcohol-related reasons is one in six over an individual’s life. In 2019, 32% of traffic fatalities were alcohol-related, and nearly 19 thousand people were convicted of DUI.

According to a recent news report, a front-seat passenger died from life-threatening injuries sustained when the vehicle the passenger was riding in hit a utility pole at 7:15 PM. The car, a Volvo, was the only vehicle involved in the accident. Observers say there was no evident reason for the car to leave the roadway and strike the pole and that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. The driver was arrested at the scene, and the crash is currently under investigation.

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Pedestrians in Virginia and the Beltway region have been at an increased risk of injury from auto-pedestrian accidents in recent years. Obsolete traffic control devices, as part of a broader shift away from pedestrian infrastructure, have caused more pedestrians to cross dangerous roads without the right-of-way, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths in recent years in the region. A woman was recently killed when attempting to cross the street from a restaurant in Washington County earlier this month.

According to a local news report discussing the incident, the 72-year-old victim was crossing the street in front of the Williamsport Waffle House restaurant on Route 11 an early morning in January, when she was struck by a GMC truck and died at the scene of the crash. Reportedly, it was still dark outside when the crash occurred, and visibility may have been an issue. The driver of the truck stopped after the incident and has cooperated fully with authorities concerning the tragedy, although the article does not note if a citation was issued to the driver after the crash.

Pedestrians in Virginia should exercise extreme caution when walking near a roadway or crossing the street. It is always best to find a crosswalk to cross a busy street and make eye contact with any stopping drivers before entering the road to ensure that they see you. Drivers owe all pedestrians a duty to avoid a collision and can be held accountable for causing a crash. A pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle while properly using a crosswalk has the right of way, and the driver of the vehicle can be held financially accountable for any injuries suffered in the crash.

In recent years, the dangers of prescription opioids have gained significant public attention. The public has now recognized the potential for severe opioid addiction and the dire health outcomes it portends. What has gained less attention is the link between opioid use and motor vehicle accidents. Research has shown that people who take prescription opioids are more than twice as likely to be involved in a car accident than people who don’t. As opioid use climbed from the 1990s and early 2010s, so did the number of fatalities among drivers who used prescription opioids. Until recently, however, little was known about the link between prescription opioid use and non-fatal motor vehicle accidents.

A recent study from researchers at Yale University sought to remedy this gap in knowledge. In a study of non-fatal accidents from 2014-2018, the researchers found that car accidents involving opioids have significantly decreased. The researchers started with de-identified data from roughly 255 million people with health insurance from all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. From there, they looked at over 142,000 emergency room visits resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Then, they determined how many injured drivers had an active opioid prescription at the time of the accident. Each year, the number of drivers with opioid prescriptions dropped. By the end of the study, so did the number of accidents.

The study’s authors credit this change to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2016 guidelines around the prescription of opioids. That year, the CDC provided guidance for doctors on whether to prescribe or continue prescribing opioids, along with the length and dosage of prescriptions. Additionally, the CDC offered strategies for assessing the risks of opioid abuse and the harm it can inflict on patients and their families. After the CDC published its guidelines, non-fatal accidents involving opioids decreased by 28%. According to an author of the study, this data suggests that more cautious opioid prescription practices have reduced the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents. The study’s lead author further credits lawmakers at the federal and state levels who have tried to address the opioid crisis. They praised measures including drug take-back programs, electronic databases that monitor the number of opioid prescriptions within a state, and further restrictions on opioid prescriptions.

The average driver usually pays little attention to the height restrictions that are posted while driving on roadways, passing under bridges, or entering parking garages. Many of these height limits or restrictions are vitally important for the safety of all Virginia drivers on our roads and highways. When drivers of high-clearance vehicles fail to abide by height restrictions, tragic accidents can happen. A semi-truck driver’s over-height load caused a horrifying crash near Richmond, VA on Interstate 95 earlier this month, which resulted in one death, as well as serious property damage.

A recently published local news report has discussed the crash. According to the report, a semi truck carrying heavy-duty steel construction beams which were loaded on the truck over the legal height limit passed under a highway overpass on I-95. The beams struck the roadway overpass, damaging the road above, and were pushed off the semi-truck and onto the roadway. A septic tanker truck that was following behind the semi crashed into the beams, causing an explosion and overturning the vehicle. The driver of the septic truck perished in the crash and resulting fire.

Drivers of personal, commercial, industrial, and construction vehicles are required to follow state and federal regulations concerning the height of their vehicles and their loads. The Virginia Motor Vehicle Code Section 46.2-1110 places a limit of 13 feet 6 inches on any vehicle, whether loaded or unloaded, for legal operation on public roads in the state of Virginia. In areas where roads have overhead clearances of less than 14 feet, state or municipal authorities are required to place signage at least 1500 feet before the obstruction to notify drivers of the reduced height clearance. If a driver causes damage to a bridge or road feature by driving a vehicle that is over 13 feet 6 inches or failing to yield to signs denoting a more restrictive clearance limit, they will be held financially responsible for damages caused under the VA Motor Vehicle Code.

In today’s world, it is common to see riders being picked up by popular rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft. These rideshare services offer convenience at the tip of our fingertips as individuals and groups book rides to get them from point A to point B using the mobile app on their phones. Rideshare companies have their own policies for dealing with car accidents that result while rideshare drivers are on the clock, and this includes their own requirements for insurance coverage. According to a quick look at Uber’s website, a partner driver must be insured, and while rideshare drivers are online with Uber, the company maintains auto insurance on the driver’s behalf. Figuring out exactly which type of insurance coverage a family member has after a serious accident can be complex.

According to a recent news article, a Maryland man working for a popular rideshare service company was killed in a car crash in Baltimore County, Maryland. His family is suing Uber, the rideshare service he worked for, due to a dispute regarding the amount of insurance coverage provided to the deceased man. In December 2021, another driver caused a car accident, resulting in the death of the man whose family is suing Uber and the death of the at-fault driver. In addition, other rideshare passengers suffered serious injuries. The other driver was driving on the wrong side of the road, resulting in their vehicles colliding head-on. In addition, the other driver was in possession of a stolen car, and toxicology results showed that he had cocaine and fentanyl in his system. The other driver did not have insurance. The family is suing Uber Technologies Inc., claiming that the company committed fraud. The family believes that their deceased family member had $1 million in insurance based on information found on Uber’s website, but Uber disagrees and is arguing that it is a fraction of that amount. The family is also suing the insurance company for wrongful death and breach of contract. A settlement conference was scheduled to occur to determine if the case would proceed to trial.

In some instances, disputes with rideshare companies and insurance companies regarding coverage and claims can lead to litigation. It can be difficult to decipher contracts, understand the laws that govern contracts, and understand exactly what coverage and claims may apply. This is why connecting with an experienced lawyer in your area can be extremely beneficial.

It’s no secret that everyday driving is a dangerous endeavor that requires caution and consideration from all drivers. But long-distance trips in recreational vehicles, or RVs, can be novel experiences that can trip up even the most experienced of drivers. Accidents in these vehicles may seem rare but can be deadly. Many RV passengers do not wear seatbelts, and there may be a risk of more projectile items in the vehicle that could harm passengers in a crash. Further, RV travelers may be more likely to be on road trips for long periods of time or be driving on unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar jurisdictions, increasing the risk of an accident.

According to a recent article, a group of people traveling to New York Fashion Week from Houston was involved in an accident in Virginia. The RV they were riding in collided with a tractor-trailer, killing two of the passengers and injuring seven others. The 25-year-old driver has been charged with reckless driving and driving without a valid operator’s license and was the only person in the RV wearing a seat belt. The investigation, however, is still underway.

Seat Belt Laws in Virginia

While all drivers and passengers should wear protective devices to prevent serious injury and even death in car accidents, the law does not always require it. Seat belt requirements vary by state and can apply differently to different age groups or where a passenger is seated in the vehicle. For example, some states require every person in a vehicle to buckle up, regardless of age, while others only require seatbelts for the driver and front passenger. This is even further complicated by vehicles like buses and RVs, which aren’t subject to the same seat belt laws as traditional motor vehicles.

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It is a known fact that vehicular accidents occur every day, and it is common for drivers to file claims with their insurance and sometimes civil claims in court. However, in some particularly egregious cases, criminal charges are brought by the state. Criminal vehicular charges may be brought in situations where a car accident results in the death of another person, particularly in situations where one driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving recklessly. Depending on the state, there are different laws that govern when someone may be criminally charged.

According to a recent news report, a 40-year-old Virginia man was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in St. Louis County, Minnesota. Authorities found that the driver’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. The 40-year-old driver is accused of crossing the center line and hitting another vehicle head-on. Due to the crash, officers found the other vehicle in a ditch, and unfortunately, the crash resulted in the death of the other driver. Officers reported that the 40-year-old driver had a limp and watery eyes, as well as slurred speech, in addition to smelling like alcohol. His blood alcohol content was .247, which is more than three times the legal limit of .08.

What’s the Difference Between a Civil Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Criminal Charge?

In every state, after an accident that leaves someone injured and causes the injured party to file suit, there are specific laws that dictate when and how someone can bring a lawsuit. Every state has a statute of limitations, which places a deadline for when a lawsuit must be filed by. In the state of Virginia, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is two years. This means that if you plan to bring a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Virginia, you must do so within two years from the date of the accident.

Additionally, unlike most states, Virginia uses the law of contributory negligence. In the few states left with contributory negligence laws, which includes Virginia, if the person who was injured in the accident also contributed to the accident, the injured person will be barred from recovering damages. Most other states use some form of comparative negligence or modified contributory negligence, which would allow an injured party to still recover some damages even if they have some partial fault in the accident. In Virginia, however, the state also has the last clear chance rule, which means that the final burden to act to avoid an injury falls on the defendant when specific conditions are properly met.

In a recent news report, a chemical lime plant accident occurred in Virginia, involving employees who were providing contracting services to the mine. An employee was trapped inside an excavator that had fallen over onto its side. A second person attempted to help the trapped worker and thus suffered minor lime chemical burns as he was injured in the process. The injured person was treated on the scene by first responders. Unfortunately, by the time rescuers made it to the trapped worker, they found that he was already deceased. All other mine workers made it out safely.

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Hit-and-run collisions involve at least one individual fleeing the scene after a crash without offering information or identification, without aiding others involved in the crash, or without reporting the crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were approximately 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015, which equates to this type of crash occurring somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds. Hit-and-Run collisions can be especially stressful for victims who suffer various injuries and property damage to their vehicles.

Fleeing the scene of a car accident is illegal and can result in consequences that involve criminal prosecution. Studies have shown that there are various reasons why individuals decide to flee the scene of a car accident. These reasons may include driving while intoxicated, driving significantly over the speed limit, outstanding warrants for the driver’s arrest, driving a stolen vehicle, or driving without a license or insurance, to name a few.

In a recent news report, two people were injured after a crash on Interstate 66 in Manassas, Virginia. A Nissan Altima experienced a mechanical failure and stopped in the left-center travel lane of the interstate. The driver and passenger of the Altima took various precautions, including putting on the car’s hazard lights and putting a cone that they borrowed from a nearby work zone behind the vehicle. The driver and the passenger then waited behind a retaining wall for help. Within minutes, a Kia Forte slammed into the back of the Nissan, and the driver of the Kia fled on foot and disappeared into the woods.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among individuals aged 1 – 54 in the United States. In a recent car accident in Virginia, reckless driving led to one fatality and multiple injuries. According to a local news report, a two-vehicle car accident from earlier this month resulted in the death of one person in Orange County, VA. One southbound Ford was traveling on Route 522 when the Ford ran off the right side of the road and hit the guardrail, causing the car to cross into the opposite lane and collide with a northbound car. A passenger in the southbound Ford died at the scene of the crash, while two other passengers were hospitalized with serious injuries. The 20-year-old driver was hospitalized with minor injuries, and charged with reckless driving and failure to maintain proper control of the vehicle. None of the people involved in the accident were wearing seatbelts.

In general, reckless driving is committed by someone who drives his/her vehicle “on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person” regardless of the posted speed limit. Unfortunately, drivers on the road may encounter someone driving recklessly at any time of day and on any road. Wearing a seat belt and ensuring that all passengers are properly restrained before a trip begins can help protect against severe injuries or death.

Seatbelts are known as one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes according to the CDC. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2020, 51 percent were not wearing seat belts. Wearing a seat belt during every trip can help save lives.

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