• May 22, 2017

Kaitlyn Elizabeth Duffy Killed, One Hurt in Accident in Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, VA -- A crash between an SUV and a passenger vehicle led to the death of 18-year-old Kaitlyn Elizabeth Duffy and left one person injured Friday, May 19, 2017 in Virginia Beach, VA.

The incident happened on Indian River Road.

According to the report, the victim's vehicle was struck by a delivery truck that over-corrected, crossing the center line. The driver of the SUV, Ms. Duffy, sustained critical wounds in the incident. Her unidentified female passenger was left hospitalized with critical injuries.

The driver of the delivery truck, 31-year-old Jerode Demetrius Johnson, has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter, maiming as a result of DUI, felony hit and run resulting in death, DUI first offense, and driving on a suspended operator's license.

The investigation is ongoing.

map of the area

Commentary

In this country, the accused in a criminal trial has the legal right of presumption of innocence, which will be afforded to the accused driver in this crash. However, this doesn't preclude the general public's right to comment on the egregious details in this crash. Any one of the offenses leveled against this driver are awful in their own right. When taken together, as they are in this incident, they make this driver appear particularly heinous.

Though civil cases may use the same evidence as their criminal cousins, civil trials are separate affairs from criminal trials. While the accused driver faces criminal charges, this in no way means the victim's family will receive justice for their losses.

We often say commercial insurance companies will find a defense for anything under the sun, and this accident will be no different in that regard. Adding a layer of complexity to this is the fact Virginia is a contributory negligence state. Simply put, this means if the victim is proven to have contributed to their own injuries in an accident, their family is barred from receiving compensation for their losses. The temptation for a commercial insurance company to find one thing the victim did to contribute to an accident becomes too great to ignore. If the company can place even the tiniest sliver of blame on the victim, they're in the clear.

One advantage the insurance company has over victim's families in accidents like these is the opportunity to expediently mount a defense. While insurance companies are in the process of defending themselves, families of victims are understandably still in the process of mourning their loss of their loved ones. Days, weeks, and even months may pass before victim's families realize they need help and seek out assistance.

The point being, even when you have the most blatant negligence, including a laundry list of criminal charges, it's difficult to underestimate the importance and value of a prompt, third-party investigation to ensure victims and their families have access to the justice they seek.

--Grossman Law Offices

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