A 79-year-old woman died, while another, 74, and a man, 80, were injured on Sunday, Sept. 18, when a tractor-trailer attempted to merge into the lane occupied by their car.

The Virginia State Police continue their investigation of the Pulaski County collision that occurred around 1 p.m. as both vehicles were northbound on I-81. They say that at about 100 feet south of Exit 94-B, the trucker moved into the path of the passenger vehicle, spinning it off the interstate to the left and into the guardrail.

That secondary impact, according to investigators, caused the truck to re-enter the northbound traffic lane before spinning off to the right against the other guardrail.

The woman who died — an Alexandria resident — was not wearing a safety belt and was ejected from the car. First responders took her to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The driver, a Manassas man, and the second passenger, whose residence was not noted, were both belted in. Both were seriously injured in the accident and taken to the hospital for treatment.

The tractor-trailer driver was from Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, and was uninjured in the accident. He, too, was wearing his seat belt. Troopers charged him for improperly changing lanes.

Although it is possible that additional charges against the driver of the tractor-trailer could be forthcoming pending the conclusions of the VSP investigation, he and the company that employs him could face civil penalties through both personal injury litigation for the two survivors and a wrongful death lawsuit from family members of the deceased woman.

It’s a common misconception that criminal charges or at least traffic tickets must be issued in order for a person who is injured in a collision to pursue a civil suit against the at-fault driver. A personal injury attorney can provide information and guidance to those contemplating filing suit after an accident with a truck.

Source: WSLS 10, “VSP: 1 dead, 2 hurt after crash on I-81 in Pulaski County,” Sep. 20, 2016