Virginia State Police are investigating a crash involving four vehicles and one fatality on Saturday morning.
According to WSET, “the crash was on Interstate 81 at the 128.1-mile marker, just north of Route 603 in Montgomery County.”
There were four vehicles involved: a Jeep SUV, a Toyota Scion, a Toyota Avalon, and a Toyota pick-up truck.
According to the Virginia State Police, all of the vehicles were driving north on Interstate 81 when the Jeep came to a stop in the left hand lane on the highway. The drivers of the Toyota Scion and the Toyota Avalon were able to come to a complete stop behind the Jeep but the Toyota Pickup truck did not. The driver of the Toyota pick-up truck struck the Avalon causing it to strike the cars in front of it.
Jeep was driven by Lois M. Williams-Brown, 69, of Ocala, FL. There is no indication at this point why she came to a complete stop on I-81.
Danny W. Todd, 20, of Laurel Springs, N.C. was driving the Scion, according to Virginia State Police. Mr. Todd escaped this wreck with no injuries according to the VSP.
Megan Sheesley, 18, of Amissville, Virginia was driving the Avalon. Dianna Sheesley, 55, and Milton Sheesley, 22, of Amissville, Va. were riding in the Avalon with Megan Sheesley. Both Megan and Dianna were injured and transported to the hospital for treatment.
Police say Milton Sheesley was wearing his seatbelt and died at the scene.
The Toyota pick-up truck was driven by Andrew W. Velo, 48, of Galena, IL. Velo was wearing his seatbelt and was not injured.
The driver of the Jeep, Williams-Brown was charged with Reckless Driving for stopping in the roadway.
The crash remains under investigation.
What does all of this means legally?
There are still several unanswered questions here but one would want to know why the driver of the Toyota pick-up truck was not charged with driving too closely or reckless driving for the rear-end collision. Additionally, there may have been a completely legitimate reason why Ms. Williams-Brown came to a complete stop in the road. Or there may have not been a legitimate reason.
Either way, it appears that this unfortunate situation will lead to a personal injury case for Megan and Dianna Sheesley and a wrongful death case for Milton Sheesley. At first blush, it would appear that both Ms. Williams-Brown and Mr. Andrew W. Velo would be proper defendants as the combination of the negligence between the two caused the injuries and death at issue here.
This case is likely to be filed and tried in federal court as the claims would be over $75,000 and the parties are completely diverse. Federal courts do not typically have jurisdiction in car wreck cases except when those two circumstances are present. Both circumstances seem to be present here. Complete diversity simply means the parties live in different states. In this case, the would-be plaintiffs live in Virginia, Ms. Williams-Brown lives in Florida, and Mr. Velo lives in Illinois.
Both defendants would be jointly and severally liable if the jury so finds. That means that there will likely be two insurance policies available to pay a resulting settlement or verdict.
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