A driver speeding through a parking lot in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina (NC), seriously injured five pedestrians just before noon on March 14, 2018. The collision illustrates the risks of what federal traffic safety officials a call “nontraffic” crashes, as well as the problem of unlicensed and uninsured drivers.
Local police responded to reports of the crash at a McDonald’s in the 1500 block of Julian Allsbrook Highway, just west of the I-95 interchange. They charged the at-fault driver, who has been identified as 25-year-old Karmesha Danielle Bowers of Garysburg, with careless and reckless driving, driving without an operator’s license and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The last alleged offense stems from the discovery of two children in the car who were under the age of 6 and not buckled or restrained in booster seats. Neither child suffered injuries.
According to a police statement that describes Bowers as having lost control while accelerating, she violated both main clauses of North Carolina reckless driving law. Those clauses state:
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.
All five of the injured pedestrians were originally taken to Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids. Two were later flown by helicopter to a major trauma care facility, and a third was taken by ambulance to a larger hospital for more intensive treatment.
Each of the victims has strong grounds for filing personal injury claims or lawsuits against the driver who hit and hurt them. Recovering medical expenses and other forms of compensation and damages will be complicated by the fact that the at-fault driver held no license and is almost definitely uninsured. Working with an experienced Carolina personal injury lawyer will allow the injured pedestrians to understand and invoke the uninsured motorist provisions of their own car insurance policies.
Parking lots are more dangerous than most people realize. When the National Transportation Safety Administration studied the problem of “single-vehicle crashes on private roads, two-vehicle crashes in parking facilities, or collisions with pedestrians on driveways,” it found that from the beginning 2008 through the end of 2011, “an estimated total of 363,000 people were injured in nontraffic crashes. This amounts to an average of 91,000 people injured each year in such crashes.” Another 6,483 people were killed in such nontraffic crashes during that period.
Researchers categorized the wrecks as “forward-moving vehicles, backing vehicles, rollaway vehicles (unattended with no driver in control) and other (stopped, disabled or parked vehicles).” A large number resulted from driver distraction, meaning the average annual toll taken by inattentive drivers in parking lots has grown as the use of smartphones has risen.
Elsewhere on our website, my Carolina personal injury law firm colleagues and I offer this advice on avoiding parking lot crashes:
- Do whatever necessary activity -- buckling your seatbelt, adjusting mirrors, setting radio -- before you pull out of the parking space. And speaking of seatbelts, make sure you buckle up always, even in parking lots.
- Pay attention to lane designations and posted speed limits.
- Stop at any stop signs in the parking lot.
- Park away from the entrance where it usually less crowded.