A chain-reaction crash that started when the driver of a Toyota Tacoma crossed the double yellow lines separating the two lanes of North Carolina Highway 109 in Thomasville, NC, claimed an innocent woman’s life and sent four other people to hospitals with injuries of varying severity. The deadly wreck happened a little after 3 pm on September 17, 2017.
Crash investigators determined that the pickup truck was traveling north toward Winston-Salem when it went left of center and struck a Chevy Cobalt head-on. The impact sent the Cobalt into a Honda Element. Two people in the Honda and a passenger in the Toyota needed hospital treatment but are expected to recover.
The at-fault driver of the pickup was airlifted to a medical center in Greensboro in critical condition, and the 21-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Chevy Cobalt was declared dead at the scene. Authorities identified her as a resident of nearby Kernersville.
News reports do not indicate whether the at-fault driver will face charges. Section 20-146(d1) of the General Statutes f North Carolina states that “whenever any street has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, … a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
Violating that statute makes a driver negligent even if she is not found guilty of committing a traffic offense. Such negligence then makes the driver responsible for settling personal injury and wrongful death insurance claims filed by anyone who was harmed as a result of the negligent act. That group would include the family of a person who lost his or her life.
The large number of victims created by the head-on collision and chain reaction on NC 109 in Thomasville is likely to lead to a total insurance bill that exceeds the pickup truck driver’s coverage limits. In such circumstances, crash victims can rely on the uninsured and underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) provisions of their own policies.
Licensed drivers in North Carolina are required to carry UI/UIM coverage, with A Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance from the state’s Department of Insurance explaining, “Underinsured Motorists … Coverage will provide protection when an underinsured driver, who is at-fault, causes injury to a covered individual. An underinsured driver is one whose limits of liability are less than your UIM limits, and not enough to cover the losses of the people the underinsured driver injures in an at-fault accident.”
Invoking UIM provisions can raise the same challenges as trying to collect from another driver’s insurance company. Working with a dedicated Carolina wrongful death attorney and personal injury lawyer will help the family and individuals harmed by this wreck in Thomasville clear obstacles to receiving the compensation and monetary damages they deserve.