A tractor-trailer driver has admitted to never seeing the motorcycle rider and bike passenger hit and killed in Pitt County, North Carolina (NC), on the night of October 5, 2016. The fatal rear-end collision happened on NC 11, just north of Greenville.
One of the motorcyclists died at the scene of the crash, and the other victim succumbed to his injuries after being transported to a nearby hospital. The men who lost their lives have been publicly identified as 50-year-old Joseph Felix, Jr. of Bethel and 41-year-old Leslie Haddock II of Greenville.
Police announced their intention to file charges against the driver of the 18-wheeler, but details on what criminal consequences the trucker could face remain unavailable. As my Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I know from helping grieving family members hold the driver who killed their loved one accountable, investigations into deadly truck accidents can take weeks or months.
Possible explanations for this tragic rear-end collision in eastern-central North Carolina include the following:
- The truck driver became fatigued after exceeding the legally mandated cap on hours of service.
- The semi operator became distracted by a phone call, text message, GPS device or paperwork.
- The trucker was simply speeding and following too closely.
- Drug and/or alcohol use impaired the tractor-trailer driver's ability to watch for smaller vehicles.
Whatever the evidence reveals, just the truck driver's statement that he failed to spot and slow down for the motorcycle makes him negligent, which is the standard for being held liable to pay wrongful death claims after a deadly crash. From a technical standpoint, plaintiff's attorneys rely on the civil negligence law that requires the driver of a vehicle to see what can be seen. What this means in real-world terms is that visibility conditions at the time of a crash would have allowed a reasonable person to see another vehicle at a given distance ahead of their own, If a driver failed to see what another driver could be expected to see, then that driver who caused the crash in question was negligent. In cases involving personal injuries or deaths on the road at night, my Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I often employ accident reconstruction experts to analyze the visibility distance of bright headlights versus regular headlights on a particular vehicle or truck, This helps put an actual number on "what should be able to be seen ahead" prior to the collision.