A collision between two big rigs in Lenoir, North Carolina (NC), caused an 18-wheeler to roll over and land on an SUV. The passenger in the privately owned vehicle died at the scene, while the driver of the SUV survived with critical injuries.
The fatal three-vehicle chain-reaction crash happened on the afternoon of February 17, 2017, at the intersection of Highway 11 and Davis Mill Road between the towns of Deep Run and Park Hill. State Highway Patrol officials say the incident began when a commercial truck driver pulled into the path of the 18-wheeler as it traveled straight on Highway 11.
Clipping the nose of the truck that cut him off led the 18-wheeler driver to lose control. His semi came to rest on top of the SUV, which was standing at a stop sign facing Davis Mill Road. The semi operator also went to the hospital with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.
Troopers charged the truck driver who cut off the 18-wheeler with causing the wreck and with misdemeanor death by vehicle. The relevant state statute, 20-141.4, defines that second criminal offense this way:
A [driver] commits the offense of misdemeanor death by vehicle if:
- The person unintentionally causes the death of another person,
- The person was engaged in the violation of any State law or local ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic, other than impaired driving …, and
- The commission of the offense … is the proximate cause of the death.
News reports do not specify which violation of state law the at-fault truck driver committed, but it was probably failing to yield right of way to an approaching vehicle before entering a highway. Model traffic regulations adopted with slight wording changes by every state require “the driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place … shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.” In practical terms, this places a legal duty on anyone at a side street, in a parking lot or on an on ramp to make sure he or she has enough time and space to move into the flow of traffic without raising the risk for an accident.
A driver who neglects the duty to yield and keep everyone else on the road safe becomes responsible for settling insurance claims filed by people who suffered injuries and by members of the families of people who lost their lives. As a commercial truck driver, the individual being blamed for causing this deadly wreck on Highway 11 in Lenoir County should carry several forms of insurance. Consulting with a caring and knowledgeable Carolina wrongful death attorney will help victims understand exercise all their legal options for securing compensation and damages.