A four-vehicle wreck on the beltway around Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), sent three drivers to hospitals with injuries and killed a fourth man. The incident started when the man who would lose his life ran across the median and struck another vehicle head-on.
At around 6:45 am on October 26, 2017, a man traveling along the inner loop of I-495 between Albemarle Road and Harrisburg Road in Mecklenburg County left his lane, crashed through a cable barrier and entered the path of oncoming traffic using the outer loop of the beltway. He died at the scene.
News reports do not contain details on the nature or severity of the injuries suffered by the three other drivers, but officials said all are expected to survive. As to why the first driver lost control, Highway Patrol troopers would only say that they were investigating and might needs weeks to reach a conclusion.
Television station WSOC focused on the role the cable barrier may have played in both not preventing the head-on collision and in possibly inflicting fatal injuries on the driver as he crossed the median. The effectiveness and safety of cable barriers has been the subject of much debate and study.
In 2012, researchers with the Nebraska Transportation Center at the University of Nebraska found that “a cross-median crash is the most severe type of run-off-road event in the United States. Cross-median crashes represent approximately 2 percent to 5 percent of all divided interstate crashes; yet fatalities and serious injuries occur in as much as 30 percent of these crashes.”
Regarding the use of cable barriers to mitigate the danger, the Nebraska researchers commented, “cable median barriers are median obstacles as well. They can place occupants at increased risk of severe injury or fatality if the barriers fail to adequately contain and redirect errant vehicles, resulting in rollover or vehicular penetration through the barrier. Furthermore, these barriers are also involved in many non-rollover, non-penetration fatalities and serious injuries.”
The drivers who survived the crash on I-485 around Charlotte should have strong grounds for filing personal injury claims against the insurance policy of the man who crossed the median. Even though he died in the wreck, his insurance coverage will remain in effect until legitimate claims based on negligence or recklessness are resolved.
At the same time, the family of the deceased driver may want to partner with a dedicated Carolina personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney to look into possible defects with the cable barrier. If the device erected to promote safety was deficient or in poor repair, the North Carolina Department of Transportation may have some responsibility for paying compensation and damages.