Multiple Car Accidents on I-64 Because of Bright Sun

Charlottesville and Albemarle County personal injury attorneys will be getting a lot of calls today. While I was on I-64 in Albemarle County this morning, I saw two car accidents involving multiple vehicles. Both the accidents were in the eastbound lanes of I-64 heading towards Charlottesville. The first accident was at the crest of a large hill which is just before the first Charlottesville exit. At the top of the hill, the morning sun hits the car driver in the eyes quite suddenly. And, at just the right moment, today it was around 8:15, the sun is quite blinding. The angle of the hill combined with a rising sun leaves the car or truck driver unable to see for a few seconds. At speeds of 65 miles per hour or more, the consequences can be deadly. Today, there was on car accident near the top of the hill and a second car accident a few hundred yards before the first car accident. Car bumpers were everywhere. State police lights were flashing at both scenes and ambulances were on the way.
The circumstances of the accidents highlight the need for drivers to pay attention to the road and maintain safe following distances. As a personal injury lawyer, we may be called on to evaluate the fault of the respective car drivers. If the lead driver slows because of sun light in his or her eyes and a following driver slams into the lead car, who is at fault? Did the lead driver overreact and slow to unreasonable speed too rapidly? Or is the following driver at fault for not maintaining a safe distance? As to the car accident that was down the hill, is anyone at fault when traffic suddenly stops in front of you because of an accident on the top of the hill? The safe answer is that the cars which struck the rear ends of the cars in front of them are the ones responsible. A creative approach would be to argue that the lead driver reacted in an unreasonable fashion, but I think this case would require some evidence that the reaction was truly unreasonable and unexpected. A skid mark pattern could assist in this analysis. Accident reconstruction expertise would be need to assist in the case development. The better approach for the driver is to anticipate weather related driver reactions and plan ahead. Most of the drivers on this stretch of I-64 are commuting to work in Charlottesville. The sun is a known difficulty on any mountain crest and a cautious driver should be ready to stop. Good Luck out there.

Francis P. Hajek
Wilson & Hajek, LLC, a personal injury law firm Experienced Injury and Accident Lawyers Serving Virginia, including Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Staunton, Waynesboro

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