Four people were hospitalized after two separate wrong-way car accidents occurred on Montana roads on Aug. 19, according to reports from local authorities. The accidents happened at about 9 p.m. near the Highway 90 overpass in Laurel, say state troopers.
Reports indicate that a man driving a pickup truck was traveling west in the eastbound lanes of the highway when he nearly collided with a mini-van that was traveling down the correct lanes. The driver of that vehicle slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting the pickup truck, which caused a charter bus to plow into the back of the mini-van. The driver and three of the van's passengers were injured, according to official reports.
The driver of the pickup truck swerved to avoid the vehicles, but it rolled into a nearby median. The pickup driver fled the scene of the accident, and officers are actively searching to identify that person.
The condition of the victims has not been reported in the local media.
In this case, it is likely that the individual who was driving on the wrong side of the road will face significant criminal charges, including leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury or death. It is also possible that the driver was impaired at the time of the accident, which may have influenced that person's decision to hit-and-run.
In addition to the criminal charges that may be in store for the driver of the vehicle, it is likely that the pickup truck operator will be the subject of civil litigation. The victims in the case may accrue massive medical bills, considering the nature of the crash, and punitive damages from the driver could help pay for those costs. In addition, if the victims in the crash are incapacitated and prevented from working, lost wages and other compensation could be considered.
It is not clear whether the victims are planning to file a civil complaint against the driver, as that person has not been identified.
Source: MTN News, "4 hurt by wrongway driver in Laurel," staff reports, Aug. 20, 2012