• May 08, 2017

Mikhail Shmaydiy, Son Killed, Jennifer Cole Injured in Stephens City, VA, Accident

Stephens City, VA -- May 6, 2017, Mikhail Shmaydiy and his son were killed following an accident in which their vehicle was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler.

Virginia State Police officials responded to the accident scene 6:00 a.m. along southbound lanes of I-81. It took place on the south side of town.

According to police investigators, 46-year-old Shmaydiy and his 12-year-old son were in a Mercedes traveling southbound on the interstate. They were stuck in a line of traffic that had slowed down due to a previous accident.

As they were traveling, a southbound 18-wheeler driven by 55-year-old Carl Paris somehow failed to stop in time approaching the line of traffic. This resulted in a severe rear-end collision. At least five vehicle were involved in the chain reaction crash.

Both Shmaydiy and his son were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. 39-year-old Cole, the driver of a minivan that was involved, was taken to Winchester Memorial for treatment of serious injuries. No other injuries were reported.

Police say that Paris was charged with reckless driving in relation to the accident. No further information is currently available.

Map of the Area

Commentary

I understand that this accident happened when it wasn't quite daylight out, but the fact of the matter is the 18-wheeler should have had plenty of time to stop. A whole line of vehicles had no problem slowing down in time, after all. And some reports have said the 18-wheeler was cresting a hill. This shouldn't be seen as an excuse; drivers have a responsibility to slow their speed enough to react to any obstacles at the top of the hill. In regards to what caused the truck driver not to slow down in time is something that needs to be thoroughly investigated. It's entirely possible something beyond his control occurred, but experience tells me this accident could have been avoided.

Now all that being said, any people are going to see the details surrounding this accident and assume the trucking company is going to get hit with a huge law suit, which the victims will easily win. The problem here is that the state of Virginia is what's known as a contributory negligence state. What this basically means is that in a civil lawsuit, if the plaintiff's are found at all responsible--even a little bit--for their own damages, then they lose their case.

Let's say, for example, a sedan is driving along the road, slows down to take a right turn, and is rear-ended by a pickup. The driver of the sedan the sues the pickup driver for compensation. If both sides give their arguments, and they jury decides that the pickup driver was 100% at fault, then the driver of the sedan wins their case. However, let's say the driver of the sedan didn't use their blinker, and the pickup driver's defense team uses that in court. If the jury decides the driver of the sedan is even 1% at fault, then the defense owes absolutely nothing. Because the driver of the sedan contributed to their own damages through an act of negligence--however minor it may have been--their claim essentially vanishes.

So now apply that logic to a commercial vehicle accident. Trucking companies have a lot to lose in these kinds of accidents, and with details like the one in this accident, they have a lot working against them. However, an accident happening in a contributory negligence means they're going to do everything in their power to get that 1% of fault put onto the victims. They get that, their losses just went from millions of dollars to zero in the blink of an eye.

Now don't let this make things sound absolutely impossible. Victims and their families can still get justice for their losses in a contributory negligence state. The key is to act as quickly as possible. The accident absolutely must be examined by a private investigator. An industry professional with the experienced and resources necessary to investigate the incident will ensure all crucial pieces of evidence are brought to light and preserved. Those factors must then be compiled by an experienced truck accident attorney. Having the assistance of a professional who knows the tricks of which trucking companies are capable will help protect victims and their families from harmful blame-shifting tactics. With the right experience, assistance, and preparation, victims and their families can even the scales of justice and hold negligent trucking companies accountable for their actions.

--Grossman Law Offices

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