A chain-reaction crash on I-85 through Gaston County, North Carolina (NC), left one woman dead, three innocent people injured, and a surviving driver facing multiple charges. The deadly wreck, which has been linked to distracted driving, happed between the Main Street exits to the town of Lowell and the exits to Cox Road on the outskirts of Gastonia.
According to State Highway Patrol troopers who responded to the scene, a rear-end collision set off the chain of events. The woman who lost her life stopped as vehicles lined up behind an earlier crash, and her car was hit from behind by a driver who never slowed down.
The force of the impact knocked the woman’s car into the back of a commercial truck, which inflicted severe injuries. She passed away at Carolinas Medical Center two days after the collision on the morning of May 7, 2018.
News reports do not include information on the injuries suffered by other people involved in the wreck. Television station WBTV did note, however, that the driver who rear-ended the deceased woman’s car admitted to troopers that she “‘zoned out’ and didn’t remember traffic stopping.”
Charges for reckless driving, failure to reduce speed and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle have been issued.
Elsewhere on our website, my Carolina wrongful death attorney and personal injury law firm colleagues and I cite statistics that show speeding and distracted driving to be the number one and number two causes of vehicle crashes in North Carolina. This deadly rear-end collision and chain reaction on I-85 in Gaston County combined both risk factors.
Even though the woman charged for hitting the stopped car from behind was not exceeding the speed limit for the interstate, she was traveling too fast for traffic conditions. She also, by her own admission, took her mind and focus off of responding to changes in traffic flow. Both actions satisfy the criteria for getting charged with reckless driving in North Carolina.
The relevant law, sections 20-140(a-b) of the state’s General Statutes, specifies that
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Evidence that the charged driver acted recklessly would make her legally responsible for inflicting all the crash victims’ injuries and for taking the other woman’s life. That responsibility extends to settling personal injury and wrongful death claims through her car insurance policy or with her own funds.
Given the large number of people who have legitimate claims to receiving compensation and monetary damages, she may lack the coverage and funds to satisfy all claims. Partnering with an experienced and caring Carolina wrongful death attorney would help the claimants explore all their legal options for holding the driver accountable.