A 4-year-old boy who had been kneeling and playing in a parking lot suffered fatal injuries when a drunk or drugged driver struck him. The deadly pedestrian crash in Robeson County, North Carolina (NC), happened on the afternoon of May 8, 2018.
A State Highway Patrol trooper responded to the report of the collision in front of a tobacco shop off Prospect Road near the intersection of NC 710. The trooper performed CPR on the young child, but he died after arriving at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
The at-fault driver, who has been identified in numerous news reports as 55-year-old Nancy Louise Ransom, remained at the scene, She now faces charges for committing several traffic violations, for driving while impaired and for causing the boy’s death. It is unclear whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the fatal parking lot pedestrian crash.
Normally, the at-fault driver and her insurance company could argue that the deceased child’s family had no legitimate wrongful death claim because the boy did not move out of the way. North Carolina remains just one of four states that imposes a strict contributory negligence rule that makes it impossible for anyone who did anything to cause his or her own injury or death to succeed with insurance claims.
But North Carolina also follows what is sometimes called the “rule of sevens,” which states that no child younger than 7 can be found negligent. The legal theory, taken from one of the oldest principles of English common law, is that very young children lack the reasoning ability to act consciously and consistently in their own best interest. Most parents understand this, and so do courts and lawmakers in North Carolina.
The biggest problem with this deadly parking lot pedestrian crash was that the woman in the SUV was driving while impaired in the middle of a weekday afternoon and not watching out for other people. The chances that something terrible and irreversible would result from the drunk or drugged driver’s decision to pick up her keys and get behind the wheel were high. Sadly, the worst did happen, and a family is left to mourn their 4-year-old son.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the Robeson County family who lost their child so needlessly. Totally preventable tragedies such as this renew our commitment to only ever sue drunk drivers and never defend them.