An involuntary manslaughter charge has been filed against a woman in Stafford County, Virginia after she drove the wrong way on US 17.
The Virginia State Police reported that the 29-year-old female driver was driving south in the northbound lanes of US 17 near Richlands Road in the Hartwood, Virginia area after midnight on Oct. 14 when her SUV slammed head-on into an Audi sedan.
The driver of the Audi was killed at the scene, and two passengers in that vehicle were taken to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.
In the US, wrong way crashes lead to 300 to 400 people killed per year on average, according to the Federal Highway Administration. This represents approximately one percent of the total number of traffic deaths that occur each year. This is a relatively small number of crashes, but the accidents tend to be deadly because the two vehicles are traveling in the opposite direction and crash at very high combined speeds.
National statistics show that wrong way crashes are most likely to happen from 12 am to 3 am, with most of them occurring on the weekends. Some of the wrong way crashes involve intoxicated drivers, while others involve fatigued drivers.
Wrong way drivers also are more likely to not have a current driver’s license.
Whatever the reasons for these accidents, these are tragic, avoidable crashes where a high degree of negligence is involved. Our personal injury attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina want to point out that people who kill others in wrong way crashes are faced with many legal problems. As in the above case, a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter or similar charge can be filed. Upon conviction, this can net the driver at least a few years in state prison. There also are substantial fines, license suspension, and a permanent criminal record to contend with.
The other legal problem is that the driver also can be sued in a wrongful death action. If the driver is found to have been negligent and caused the death of the deceased due to that negligence, he or she can be liable for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of damages. The insurance policy in effect often will only cover a certain amount of those financial damages, so the driver is often responsible for the rest of it.
Drivers need to be certain that they are driving in a safe manner at all times. It will save lives and also prevent you from suffering serious criminal and civil penalties in a car accident with serious personal injury or death.