A trip home from trick-or-treating on Halloween Night 2017 turned deadly for a family whose SUV was hit head-on by a car pushed out of its own lane by the force of a rear-end collision. The fatal chain reaction crash happened a little after 9 pm in Robeson County, North Carolina (NC).
Investigators with the State Highway Patrol determined that the driver of a car started the deadly chain of events by failing to slow down when the three vehicles ahead of him on NC 20 near the turnoff to Nash Road did. While traveling east outside of the town of St, Pauls, he struck the car ahead of him from behind and knocked it into the path of oncoming traffic. It is not known if the at-fault driver was distracted or speeding in the moments before the crash.
Two children in the SUV suffered critical injuries and died after being taken to hospitals. A third child and two adults in the SUV also required treatment for injuries. The deceased youngsters were identified as siblings aged 7 and 10.
In all, five vehicles sustained damage and nine people were treated by paramedics or hospitalized. Troopers filed two preliminary charges of misdemeanor death by vehicle against the driver who caused the first rear-end collision.
Under North Carolina law, proving the cited offense requires presenting evidence that the accused driver did not mean to cause the wreck and that one or more innocent people lost their lives as a direct result of being involved in the crash. Evidence collected by the Highway Patrol can also be used to support wrongful death and personal injury insurance claims.
The family who lost their young children may face some difficulties in securing compensation and damages, though, because crash investigators learned that neither of the kids was using a seat belt or child safety seat. North Carolina tickets parents and caregivers who do not properly restrain children in passenger vehicles, but the applicable state statute also states that a “violation shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se.” In other words, insurance claims cannot be automatically rejected on the grounds that the children were not buckled in.
Working with a caring Carolina wrongful death attorney will help the grieving family overcome an insurance company representative’s unsupportable arguments about contributory negligence. Enlisting the assistance of a lawyer will also help the family focus on physical and emotional recovery as the case involving the at-fault driver moves through the criminal and civil law systems.