• January 25, 2017

Roderick, Demetria Manifold, Marion Brewer Killed in Fluvanna Co., VA, Accident

Fluvanna County, VA -- January 23, 2017, Roderick and Demetria Manifold, as well as Marion Brewer, were killed following a head-on 18-wheeler accident.

Fluvanna County authorities rushed out to the accident scene at approximately 9:00 a.m. that Monday. They say the crash happened near Mile Marker 99 along US Highway 15.

Preliminary accident investigations indicate that an 18-wheeler was traveling southbound on the highway. Weather conditions at the time had created slick road conditions. As the 18-wheeler drove, it lost control and swerved across the center traffic line. The semi-trailer entered oncoming traffic where it collided head-on with a Honda passenger vehicle.

The occupants of the Honda, Roderick and Demetria, both 69, and 91-year-old Brewer were all killed in the collision. Authorities confirm they were wearing seatbelts. The driver of the 18-wheeler had minor injuries.

Following the accident, authorities issued the truck driver with a charge of reckless driving. It's unclear if additional charges are being considered.

Virginia DOT officials have not released any additional details at this time. Their investigations are ongoing.

Map of the Area

Commentary

I think this accident brings up a pretty important question relating to fatal truck accidents: is it ever okay for truckers not to adjust their driving for inclement weather? I've seen so many truck accidents happen just like this where an 18-wheeler loses control on a wet or icy road and crosses highway lanes. The controversy in these kinds of situations is what constitutes whether or not the truck driver in these kinds of accidents could reasonably have foreseen the accident occurring.

Think about it like this. A truck driver is going along, it's cold, but sunny. The road is dry as a bone. All the sudden, an isolated patch of ice causes the truck to slip, lose control, and swerve into oncoming traffic. If this were the situation--and there certainly are situations like this that come up from time to time--then no could reasonably expect the truck driver to be prepared for that sort of thing to happen. Sometimes, things can happen very suddenly, and any driver, commercial or not, can't be expected to be prepared for unpredictable situations. If they were going the speed limit, weren't over-loaded, and were paying attention to the roadway, then they pretty much did everything they could reasonably do to drive safely.

However, most of these kinds of accidents, and it seems like this accident may be another one of them, happen while it's raining or when roads are icy. When either of these is the case, then one would expect drivers to have encountered plenty of slick spots on the road and adjust their driving accordingly. A truck driver--a person who drives as a profession--should absolutely be aware of the fact that driving at high speeds during inclement weather conditions is a recipe for disaster. Our society expects all drivers to operate their vehicles with the utmost care, based upon the conditions of the road. When they fail in this duty and cause damage to others, then a driver can be held liable.

18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If a 2 ton passenger vehicle has a noticeable decline in performance when roads turn from dry to wet, this is only magnified when a vehicle weighs 40 tons. I began by asking if drivers have a duty to adjust their driver to the conditions of the road. The answer is certainly that they do. Failing to do so is negligent, and when someone's negligence injures another person, the injured person is owed compensation.

--Grossman Law Offices

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