North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers are blaming a drunk driver for causing a fatal crash on I-77 in Charlotte. The three-vehicle collision happened south of the exits to Carowinds Boulevard on the night of April 5, 2018.
Authorities received reports of the wreck a little before 8 pm. They determined that a 36-year-old woman behind the wheel of a Jeep set off the deadly chain of events by swerving out of her lane and hitting a van. The impact sent the van off the right side of the interstate, where it slammed into the back of a disabled and unoccupied pickup truck parked on the shoulder.
An adult passenger in the van died at the scene. Her 11-year-old niece sustained critical injuries, and the girl’s parents suffered injuries that required hospital treatment but did not put their lives in jeopardy. The deceased passenger was the sister of the van’s driver.
Troopers noticed that the woman in the Jeep was under the influence of alcohol, and they filed a preliminary charge of driving while impaired. Additional charges may follow when the investigation concludes.
DWIs take a terrible toll on North Carolina roads and highways. During 2016, the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles recorded 8,226 crashes in which the at-fault driver was drunk. A total of 240 of those alcohol-related crashes resulted in at least one death, and 4,031 of them left people injured badly enough to need hospital treatment.
Driving under the influence is a leading risk factor for leaving one’s lane, as happened on I-77 near Carowinds Boulevard. DMV statistics for 2016 show 12,438 crashes attributed to improper lane changes, 9 of which proved fatal and 2,095 of which left people seriously injured.
The Centers for Disease Control explains what happens as people drink and then get behind the wheel this wat:
- At a blood alcohol concentration of .5, well below the legal limit, a majority of people begin experiencing reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and slowed response to emergency driving situations,
- At a BAC of .1, drivers find it more difficult to maintain their lane and brake appropriately.
- At a BAC of .15 and higher, which many people cited for DWI have, most people find it very difficult to control their vehicle, devote sufficient attention to driving and quickly process visual information.
When their health permits, the injured parents have strong grounds for filing personal injury insurance claims against the drunk driver who hit their van in Charlotte. They can also seek compensation and damages on behalf of their daughter.
Additionally, they and the family of the deceased passenger should be able to seek punitive damages from the at-fault driver. These are civil penalties assessed separately from criminal fines, and they also get awarded over and above any insurance settlements or civil lawsuit awards. Consulting with a caring and experienced Carolina personal injury and wrongful death attorney will help the victims understand how to file for punitive damages.